NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out Tuesday at reports that he encouraged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to run to succeed him, and he pointedly praised the city official who has long been seen as his pick for the job.
Asked about the media reports, which cited anonymous sources, Bloomberg didn't directly deny a conversation with Clinton but retorted: "Did you hear me say that?" And in a bit of political optics, expected mayoral candidate and current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stood by Bloomberg's side while he described her as key to his administration's success.
"This woman has made an enormous difference in the city, she's a leader, and I have nothing but respect for her," Bloomberg said. "... I don't know who's going to run, but if you want to start a fight between me and Chris Quinn, you're not going to do it."
Clinton aides, meanwhile, wouldn't confirm such a call took place or discuss her plans. Clinton has said she expects to step down soon from her Department of State post.
The New York Times first reported Monday that Bloomberg, an independent, suggested a mayoral bid to Clinton by phone a few months ago, but Clinton wasn't interested.
Clinton, for that matter, doesn't live in New York City. She and former President Bill Clinton have a house in suburban Chappaqua. They bought the home shortly before her successful 2000 run for the U.S. Senate.
Bloomberg's third term, the last under a term limit he persuaded the Quinn-led council to extend in 2008, ends next year. Quinn in recent polls has been leading several other presumptive Democratic candidates: former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, current Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Asked whether she thought Clinton would make a good mayor, Quinn said she thought the former Democratic presidential candidate "would excel in any position she ever takes."
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who recently left the Democratic Party to become a Republican, is expected to run as a GOP candidate. Local newspaper publisher Tom Allon, another Democrat-turned-Republican, has announced he's running.
Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper in Brussels contributed to this report.