Mitt Romney and Barack Obama won't formally meet on a debate stage for months, but behind the scenes, the men are already duking it out over what is apparently a major get in the 2012 campaign: Michael Bloomberg's endorsement.
The presumptive Republican nominee had breakfast Tuesday morning with the New York City mayor in hopes of winning his backing ahead of November's election, according to a Romney campaign official. The sit-down was first reported by The New York Times' Michael Barbaro.
The meeting—the first between Romney and Bloomberg—comes just days after the mayor met with Vice President Joe Biden, who was in town pressing for Obama's re-election this fall.
Romney's overtures come a week after Bloomberg met with Sen. John McCain, who told reporters afterward that he encouraged the billionaire media mogul turned politician to back Romney's presidential bid.
"I told him that I just spent last weekend with Romney, and I thought that Romney was on message ... and tried to convince the mayor that we've got a winning campaign," McCain told the New York Post.
Bloomberg, who declined to endorse in the 2008 campaign, has not said whether he'll formally back a candidate in 2012.
It's unclear what kind of impact Bloomberg's backing would have in the fall. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released in December found that 44 percent of Americans had no opinion of the mayor, and among those who did, most were split on how they felt about him. But the poll found that Bloomberg was most popular among self-described independent voters as well as "moderates"—voting blocs Romney needs if he is to have a chance of defeating Obama in November.
But it's probably not just Bloomberg's popularity among moderates that has the Romney and Obama camps clamoring for his endorsement. The mayor hasn't been coy about his own presidential aspirations; locking down his support might derail a third-party candidacy this fall.
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