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Bloomberg to address House GOP

The Hill

WASHINGTON, DC, September 28, 2010 | Kate Thompson ((202)225-3035)
Tags: General
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to meet with House Republicans on Thursday.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to meet with House Republicans on Thursday.

The GOP’s invitation to the Republican-turned-Independent is an unusual move. Bloomberg, who supports gun control, recently criticized Republicans for their handling of a bill for 9/11 responders and has endorsed several Democrats in the midterm elections.
Bloomberg, considered a possible presidential candidate, will speak at the weekly House GOP Theme Team meeting on Thursday morning.

“Theme Team” organizer Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) explained that Bloomberg was asked to appear because he is a leader outside the Washington Beltway whom GOP lawmakers want to talk to. The point of the weekly Theme Team meetings is to give House GOP lawmakers and staffers a chance to have off-the-record conversations with key outsiders on important issues.
Kingston said, “He has friends on both sides of the aisle, and he has influence on both sides of the aisle. We feel that he has something to offer and we want to hear what’s on his mind and what he’s up to.”

He added that there is no tension between House Republicans and Bloomberg, though he said the mayor’s political endorsements may be discussed on Thursday.
Bloomberg’s office did not comment for this article.

The Theme Team meetings happen every week the House is in session. Most weeks, only 30 members attend, but for higher-profile individuals, that number can reach 50 to 60 lawmakers. Capitol Hill staffers are also invited to participate in the closed-door meetings.
Regular Theme Team participant Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he looks forward to hearing what Bloomberg has to say.

“I’m always interested to hear different perspectives. I don’t know that I agree with him on a whole lot, but it will be great to hear his perspective,” the conservative Gohmert told The Hill.

Bloomberg, who has presented himself as a centrist willing to work with both parties, recently hosted a fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the No. 1 target for Republicans this fall.

The billionaire mayor also played a round of golf with President Obama at Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

Bloomberg has endorsed Rep. Joe Sestak (D) over Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) over Republican Ken Buck, a Tea Party favorite.

But Bloomberg has also endorsed some Republicans, including Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), who is running for Obama’s old Senate seat.

Bloomberg has been critical of the Tea Party movement that has boosted several GOP candidates in Republican primaries across the country.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Bloomberg called the Tea Party movement a “fad.”

“People are angry,” he told The New York Times. “[A]nger, however, is not a government strategy. It’s not a way to govern.”

Gohmert said, “Well, we’ll have a chance to ask about [those comments.] I’m sure he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t think it was true.”

Bloomberg blasted House Republicans in July for opposing what they called a “9/11 slush fund” to provide ailing rescue workers with healthcare benefits.

“It was wrong for the overwhelming majority of Republicans to vote against the bill, and it was wrong for Democrats to bring the bill to the floor under rules that made passage so much more difficult,” he said after the measure fell short.
Democrats attempted to pass the bill on the suspension calendar, requiring two-thirds of the House to back it.

Bloomberg’s appearance with GOP lawmakers will come a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is scheduled to address the entire House Republican Conference, according to a leadership staffer.

A Kingston aide explained that Bloomberg was booked months ago for Thursday’s meeting.
Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford said the point of the Theme Team is to “bring outside ideas in” to Capitol Hill. Crawford added that Democrats have addressed the conference before, though most of the guests are Republican.

CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), Dr. Patch Adams and former Secretary of State Colin Powell are among the recent guests, according to Crawford. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and John Podesta, who served as President Clinton’s chief of staff, have also met with the GOP group.