July 26, 2007 -- In his first network interview since leaving the Republican Party in June, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told ABC's Robin Roberts that America is in a dire state.
"We have too much crime on the streets," he said on "Good Morning America." "People are getting killed throughout the country. We have an education system that's not educating everybody. That's detrimental to the whole country, including the people who are left behind."
The billionaire's profile has risen in recent months. He's hung out with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and switched parties from Republican to independent. His staff has unveiled a new Web site, Mike2008.com. And when Roberts caught up with him, he was in the swing state of Missouri, meeting St. Louis' mayor and addressing the National Urban League.
Though some might think he's getting ready for a White House run, Bloomberg said that's not on his agenda.
"I'm going to fill out my term as mayor of the city of New York, and not run for president," he said. "But … I live in this country. I'm one of 300 million people and I think that I have an obligation to speak out."
Bloomberg said he wouldn't consider being on a ticket as a vice president either.
"I've got a job," he said. "And it's a great job. And I'm going to finish this job and then my next career is gonna be in philanthropy."
Bloomberg's visits to more than 20 states in the last 18 months -- some of them key election states -- have fueled rumors of a presidential run. But he said that's just a coincidence.
"In all fairness, they're key states, 'cause there's big states. And big states are where you're more likely to have things to do, or be invited to speak," he said. "So, that's just an accident."
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Despite the mayor's assertions that he's not running for president, Bloomberg's remarks on the state of the nation and its standing overseas suggest he's thinking bigger than New York City.
"We have no answers as to how we're going to have energy independence," he said. "We don't have a good immigration policy that will carry this country forward. Overseas, we have many problems. We're not liked, and sadly, our reputation's gone way downhill — overseas."
Even if the mayor doesn't seek higher office, some say he could play a significant role in the '08 election.
"There's no doubt that Mike Bloomberg, by sort of stepping up on the national platform, can have an impact on the political discourse in 2008," said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.
Bloomberg is already holding candidates accountable. He rebuked the current presidential contenders for pandering to the public and not talking about what he believes are the big domestic issues: public education, guns and crime.
"Nobody's willing to … say explicitly, 'This is what I believe. This is how I would improve education, for example,'" he said.
Bloomberg also said the situation in Iraq has hurt America's status, and he's going to continue to voice his opinion on what he believes the country should do.
"We are a superpower, where we're probably immobilized because of Iraq," he said. "We don't have the equipment or the stomach to go and be the superpower, if it's needed someplace in the world. And we have to address these issues."
"And why don't I speak out and … tell people what I think they should do? They don't have to listen. But I think I have an obligation to do that."