Bloomberg laid presidential groundwork

June 21, 2007 at 12:06 PM

NEW YORK, June 21 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement that he is leaving the Republican Party follows two years of preparations for an independent presidential bid.

Bloomberg, who announced his exit from the party Tuesday, said Wednesday he doesn't intend to run for president in 2008, but for two years his aides have collected data revealing how to have the mayor listed on ballots in all 50 states as a third party or an independent candidate, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Bloomberg has also traveled the country giving political speeches and reportedly told associates he has been studying the 1992 campaign for president by H. Ross Perot -- a friend of Bloomberg's who captured 19 percent of the vote -- to gauge the costs of a potential 2008 run.

The mayor said at a Wednesday news conference that he plans to keep his mayoral position for the remainder of his term, which ends Jan. 1, 2010.

"My intention is to be mayor for the next 925 days and 10 or 11 hours," he said. "I've got the greatest job in the world, and I'm going to keep doing it."

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