What happened
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now an independent, was the star attraction at a bipartisan summit of former government officials at the University of Oklahoma on Monday, fueling speculation that he will launch a third-party bid for the White House. Bloomberg denies that he is running, but his aides hint that the mayor might spend up to $1 billion of his fortune on an independent bid. (AP in Chicago Sun-Times)

What the commentators said
The forum was ostensibly about promoting centrist, bipartisan solutions to our nation's problems, said Martin Kady in the Politico, but it was also "an implicit warning to the presidential contenders: Listen to us, or deal with Michael Bloomberg down the road."

The major-party candidates "probably don't need his push," said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. By choosing Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee in Iowa, "voters are already exerting pressure" on the candidates to "bridge America's Red-Blue divide." So, "at this point, it doesn't look like another entrant is necessary."

Necessary or not, said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial, Bloomberg's got "an apparent itch to run for president and the bucks to scratch that itch." And the Oklahoma forum attracted "enough respected, and apparently frustrated, leaders of both parties that if some of them were to support a Bloomberg candidacy, they could make life miserable for their party's nominee."

The moderates may be shooting themselves in the foot, said Eleanor Randolph in The New York Times (free registration). A third party candidate, "with or without Mr. Bloomberg's money, might siphon off moderate voters from the two main parties." And that would leave our political culture "even more dominated by the screamers on both sides."

Bloomberg may be "eager to be this year's dark horse," said Michael Knox Beran in National Review Online, but his candidacy would mainly provide some "fun for the Madison Avenue boys who write the voiceovers for the ad campaign." What does he have to brag about? Banning trans-fats? He may be a "wildly successful capitalist," but as a politician he's a "fairly orthodox tax-and-spend liberal." On the upside, if he runs, Bloomberg "may well become a laughingstock." He "must sense that Election 2008 needs a little comic relief."

Six years into his "improbable mayoralty, New Yorkers should know better than to dismiss his chances of winning the White House," said Harry Siegel in the New York Post. After all, he has successfully "alchemized a record of mediocre accomplishments into a rep as a highly competent, unideological reformer worthy of the presidency." He has managed to stay "unnaturally" popular in New York and avoid scrutiny by the media. And the presidency may not be out of reach for "a disciplined campaigner with unlimited funds at his disposal running against an unimpressive field."