Overheard: Romney would do a better job of running the country, says ... Mike Bloomberg

On the one hand, wasn’t this guy once touted as a possible successor to Geithner at Treasury? It’s hard to tell bona fide White House chatter sometimes from the sort of centrist-pundit wishcasting that’s forever imagining Bloomberg running for president as an indie or being named Obama’s chief of staff or whatever, but I was under the impression until now that he was fairly solidly pro-O. Which makes this, in a way, a sweet get.

On the other hand, do we really want the Soda Jerk’s endorsement? C’mon.

[D]uring casual conversations at charity event a few days ago, Mr. Bloomberg was far chattier — and candid — about the subject, according to three people who overheard him.

Mr. Bloomberg said that he believed Mr. Romney would probably be better at running the country than Mr. Obama, according to two guests.

But Mr. Bloomberg said he could not support Mr. Romney because he disagreed with him on so many social issues, these two people said. The mayor mentioned two such issues: abortion rights and gun control.

As a result, Mr. Bloomberg said, he intended to remain neutral, said one guest.

So it’s not a formal endorsement, just a through-the-grapevine vote of no confidence in The One. Too bad. Bloomy’s stamp of approval won’t move any votes directly outside of the No Labels membership list, but it would have been nice to have those aforementioned centrist pundits burbling for a few days about the symbolic significance of America’s most famous independent throwing in with the GOP this time. Can we get them to do that over this NYT piece instead? If we do, er, who’ll even notice?

Exit question: What exactly is Bloomberg’s problem with Obama? He’s actually more aggressive on tax hikes than The One himself, calling on Congress to let the Bush tax cuts lapse across the board in part because he resents O’s OWS-ish populism in singling out the rich. Is Slate right that this is a simple case of a liberal billionaire bristling at demagoguery aimed at Wall Street?

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