Bloomberg Now Bullish on McCain

Mike Bloomberg plans to re-inject himself into the presidential campaign on Friday by talking up John McCain in a speech to the Independence Party of Minnesota.

Bloomberg will praise McCain's record of bucking his own party while stopping short of making a formal endorsement.

Yes, this is the same Mike Bloomberg who went to Florida last month to denounce what he called a "whisper campaign" in the Jewish community linking Barack Obama to Islam.

McCain, who has long enjoyed a positive relationship with Bloomberg, recently ingratiated himself with New York's billionaire mayor by discussing education reform behind closed doors with Joel Klein, the chancellor of the New York City school system.

The Bloomberg speech on independent leadership, which will tout McCain, takes place in Minneapolis at 9:00 am ET.

Before Bloomberg ruled out an '08 bid of his own, the Independence Party of Minnesota tried to draft him into the presidential race.

McCain recently met with the chairman of the Independence Party of Minnesota which will consider a presidential endorsement this weekend.

Party chair Craig Swaggert says he finds Obama inspirational but he thinks McCain has a longer record of deviating from party orthodoxy.

Bloomberg will also be prodding the two parties to pay more attention to the nation's infrastructure needs on Friday.

At a 3:00 pm ET press conference at the St. Paul Hotel, Bloomberg joins Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell (in person) plus California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (via satellite) for a press conference calling on both parties to adopt an infrastructure plank in their party platforms.

This bipartisan group, Building America's Future, wants the feds to make "smarter, less politicized" investment decisions as the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse.

Bloomberg will take questions from the press at both events.

Obama Meets with French President:

Barack Obama heads to France on Friday for a meeting with Gingrich favorite Nicolas Sarkozy.

The two men are expected to hold a joint press conference.

McCain Meets with Dalai Lama:

McCain meets with the Dalai Lama in Aspen, Colo., at 4:30 pm ET on Friday. The Arizona senator is expected to make brief remarks. Campaigning Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, McCain called the Dalai Lama, "a transcendent international role model and hero" for his work not only in Tibet but around the world.

The kicker:

"She never said that -- it got translated by bloggers into something that had actually been said."

--Minnesota Gov. and McCain V.P. Prospect Tim Pawlenty to ABC News on whether his wife refers to him as "45," as in the 45th president of the United States. Former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, his tongue "planted in cheek," made the crack about the presidential pet name during an April fundraiser for Pawlenty.

On the campaign front. . .

JOHN MCCAIN

-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends the 2008 American GI Forum of the United States National Convention, Denver, CO.

-- 4:30 pm ET: Attends meeting with the Dalai Lama, Aspen, CO.

BARACK OBAMA

-- Meets with French President Sarkozy in France.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

-- 9:00 am ET: Speaks at an Independence party fundraiser, Minneapolis, MN.

-- 3:00 pm ET: Joins Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (via satellite) for a press conference calling on both parties to adopt an infrastructure plank to their party platforms, St. Paul, MN.

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