By Katie Shahriari
As the number of presidential candidates continues to dwindle with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson bowing out Thursday afternoon, there is talk of a new candidate possibly making a run as an independent - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Even though Bloomberg himself has denied any plans to run for President in 2008, Wednesday sources close to the mayor said that he has launched a research effort to assess his chances in a potential bid for President.
What would it mean to the race if there were a third party candidate?
Well, let's look back on the last time there was a third party candidate and the effect it had on the election. The year was 2000, and we all remember the craziness that ensued from that election. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader ran against George W. Bush and Al Gore, and was considered a spoiler - taking votes that could have gone to either party... which could have made the outcome of the election different.
In election deciding Florida, Bush beat Gore by 537 votes (count after recount) and Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida. Nader's supporters were mostly liberals who may have otherwise voted for the democratic candidate.
So what kind of spoiler would Bloomberg be? Well, it's hard to say since he's played both sides of the coin. Bloomberg was a lifelong democrat until he ran as a republican for Mayor of New York in 2001. He won and was re-elected again in 2005. In 2007 he left the Republican party and declared himself an independent.
He supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage, gun control and stem cell research. So on paper, he looks like a democrat.
But the republican comes pretty much by association only. He raised money for the 2004 GOP convention and raised money for Bush and other republicans.
His focus now is on bipartisanship. While the Presidential candidates were all out stumping for last minute votes in New Hampshire Monday, he was attending a panel in Norman, Oklahoma calling for bipartisanship in the political arena.
"What has changed is that people have stopped working together," he said in front of a group including of current and former U.S. political leaders. "Government is dysfunctional. There is no collaboration and congeniality. There is no working together and 'Let's do what's right for the country.'"