NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who has considered running for president, declared Monday that an independent has a better chance at succeeding in the White House than a Republican or a Democrat.

The billionaire Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent mayor toyed with a third-party run in 2008 but ultimately abandoned the idea. He has said unequivocally he won’t run in 2012, but during a forum at Harvard University on Monday he endorsed the idea of an independent in the White House.

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“I think actually a third-party candidate could run the government easier than a partisan political president because the partisan political president — yeah he’s got half the votes, but he can’t get the others — whereas the guy in the middle may very well be able to get enough across the aisle,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor, who founded the financial information company Bloomberg LP and whose fortune is estimated at $18 billion by Forbes magazine, is considered a potential, if long shot, candidate in 2012. He can afford to wait until well into the election year before he has to decide whether to run, largely because he doesn’t have to raise money.

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It also serves Bloomberg well to keep the door open and buzz alive because it sustains an air of mystery around him and makes him a relevant national figure well into the later years of his third term as the head of the nation’s biggest city.

When asked during the forum Monday whether he would run, Bloomberg said he will not. He said he asked the New York City voters who elected him in 2009 for another four years, adding that he is “sort of inclined” to fulfill that promise.

He said, though, he believes there will be a point at which “the public gets so upset that they say, ‘I’m going to pick the third party.'”

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