Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the first in a series of "presidential lectures" at Dartmouth College on Friday, saying once again that he doesn't plan to try to become president of the United States.
The "president" in the lecture series' title is Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim, who created the program to supplement students' classroom experience with real-world lessons. But the U.S. presidency also came up in a written question from an audience member who asked Bloomberg if he planned to run and offering to work his or her "tail off" to get him elected.
"Thank you, Diana, for that question," Bloomberg joked, referring to his girlfriend, Diana Taylor, a 1977 Dartmouth graduate and board of trustees member.
He kept up the joking tone, saying every one of his positions "cuts off half the country" and would make it impossible for him to win over enough voters to get elected president.
"I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-gay rights. I'm pro-immigration. I'm against guns. I believe in Darwin. It's down to Diana, my mother and me left, and I'm not sure about my mother," Bloomberg said.
Directing his comments specifically to reporters at the back of the theater, Bloomberg was more blunt, saying: "No, I'm not running. Make that clear."
Bloomberg, a billionaire Republican-turned-independent, explored a potential third-party presidential campaign in 2008 before deciding not to run. Buzz over a possible bid has followed him, however, most recently in January when he hired Hillary Rodham Clinton's former media strategist as an adviser. Howard Wolfson has since become deputy mayor.
As an independent, Bloomberg wouldn't be eligible to get on the ballot in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primaries, which are open to independent voters but not independent candidates.
But in his speech, independence was the first of four qualities Bloomberg urged students to cultivate, along with innovation, generosity and being prepared.
He said joining a political party was fine, but urged students not to blindly follow party ideology.
"Both liberals and conservatives have good ideas. The problem is, too often neither side is willing or able to admit the other side is on to something," he said.
In explaining his advice to "be prepared," Bloomberg said students should focus on learning how to interact with people and solve problems rather than following a path they've set up for themselves.
"The likelihood of you winding up 10 years from now doing what you think you'll be doing is probably less than 1 in 10," he said.
He added, jokingly, "But if you want to go into public service, I will recommend you first become a billionaire."