LiveBlogging The Cooper Union Brokaw Talk with Mike Bloomberg

Mario Cuomo is such a likable guy...  He's giving a great intro for Bloomberg.

Ok, Mario, a little over the top intro for Brokaw...   

Brokaw starts off pointing out his change of parties and changing baseball team affiliations.... obviously, this isn't word for word.

Should Lee Bolinger have allowed the President of Iran to speak of Columbia?  Bloomberg gives a supportive free speech answer.   

Should President Bush speak with the President Iran?  We shouldn't be talking to him directly at a high level, but should be talking to every country on the face of the earth at some level.  Inappropriate and incendiary to allow him to leave a wreath at Ground Zero.

Are we safer now than we were in '02 or '03?

Is Rudy Giuliani exploiting his role in 9/11, particularly during the last anniversary ceremonies?
He was invited, as were lots of other political figures.  He was the Mayor at the time and the face of New York at the time... important to have him there.

How are the Democrats shaping up for '08?

I find both parties...  rather... blame ourselves for instant, soundbite answers, allowing candidates to duck tough questions, because the public doesn't demand answers to tough questions.  For both parties, we don't really grill the parties enough.  The press should help us look at qualifications, information.  This country is in big trouble... we've lost relationships.  We've got trade issues.  We're hurting our environment.  We have very few friends in this world.  We have a lot to be proud of and shouldn't be ashamed about what we bring to the party, but we have an arrogance and a go in alone approach.  I don't know what the solution is for Iraq any more than anyone else does, but none of the choices are good... but the real problem is rebuilding relationships around the world and not go in alone.  Why we tried before isn't important, but we can't do it anymore.

We have domestic problems, like healthcare.  Western Europe spends less money than we do and has a higher life expectancy.   What are we getting for our money?  Current plans offered by candidates aren't realistic.  At least they're trying.  Mitt Romney at least instituted a plan.  Socialized medicine doesn't seem to be working so bad in Europe.  If I was a candidate, which I'm not, but you can keep a secret, right...    well, because of the partisanship, there are things that you can't address and if you're running... if you're a democrat you just can't demand troops out fast enough, if you're a Republican, you can't say you want to raise taxes... the result is that we as voters don't get straight answers during the primaries.

Would you order a pullout of troops by April 15, 2008?
If you pull them out quickly, you lead to a massacre and destabilization...  Look we want them out as soon as possible, but picking a date... there are no easy answers here.  We need to find a way to get these people to live together, all the various groups... Jordan is a lynchpin in that region as well.

Does the President have a Plan B for Iraq?
You have to ask the President.  You have to be willing to ask people, try things, but have courage to stick to your instinct.  I wasn't party to the intelligence.  I don't want to talk about how we got there.  I don't know what I would have done.  Congress certainly voted to go to war.   Most congresspeople voted to go to war in the first place. 

Has the President failed to ask this country enough?
One of the worst things we've ever done is treat returning soldiers the way we did in Vietnam.    We have an all volunteer army and they still show up even though they know what they're going to face.  You're right that the rest of us don't really feel the pain of this war, other than the families of those troops.    Bush should find better ways to talk to the public about why we're there, not a partisan thing the way it is now.  We don't trust the military leadership anymore.  In many cases, we're not even supplying our troops with the right weapons systems because even creation of arms is a political activity.   Back in Lexington many years ago, we're now like the British were there...fighting an insurgency... a trained military.

Shift gears...  NYC has the most improved public school system in the country...
Don't thank me... thank the taxpayers, teachers, principals... the public has invested... teachers have gotten a 43% raise.  We have a long ways to go.  For decades, people said black and latino kids can't learn, so we created a two class education system.  I'm very proud of the fact that the gap, even though its intolerable that it exists, is closing.  Its easy to blame the unions for everything.  Generally, the teachers are hardworking, flexible, honest.... I'm glad we have them.  Generally, they're interested in improving the lot of their members.  Truth of the matter is that Randi Weingarten has been able to deliver a lot.  Joel Klein has been able to deliver a lot.  It's been a good balance.  It's an example of the fundamental thing you need to do is having accountability.  We're a lot closer to having accountability than we've ever had.  We're going to deliver report cards on the schools to the parents and sure people are going to scream, but we need to be able to talk honestly about the problems.  Teachers want to work here.  People want to work with an organization that is successful.  We're even giving incentives for the really good people.  Our teachers are working very hard and you can see the results.  The results are there.  Its a big school system. 

Should there be a mix of charter schools and vouchers?
Competition in the public school system is good... even the UFT runs a charter school.  Charter schools are places where you can innovate.  There are things that have worked elsewhere that we're trying... we're trying things, not with public money, where we don't know if they are going to work...  its worth trying.  You take a 2000 person school and break it up into 4 and you get double, triple the graduation rates.  With vouchers, there are just some fights you just can't win.  Plus, I'm not really sure that vouchers really work. 

Why wouldn't you run for President of the United States?
There are lots of candidates out there.  There are other ways to make a contribution.  I've been very lucky and modestly successful in business.  I'd like to able to say that this administration really advanced the ball.  My next career will probably be in philanthropy.  I've got the best job... its a job where you have to deliver results.  If I were to say that I want fifth avenue to run northbound tomorrow, you'd see signs changed and a cop on every corner, it might be a dumb idea, but you'd say it.

Just don't try it on the West Side, please...
Well, you know, we can be a model for everyone else here in this city.  There are only 14 cities in this country with populations of more than 100k that are safer and you've probably never heard of most of them.  We're going to drop the crime rate by a large amount... a record amount.

After Super Tuesday, if you're not happy the choices, are you absolutely ruling it out?
My first priority is a Subway Series...   I'm not a candidate for President.  The right question is what are the qualifications.  We took great pains to have a scorecard of things that I promised... and its never a big story.  People just focus on the things you haven't done.  The public focuses on what does work.  If you want to have a smile on your face, walk out with the belief that things are better than you think and things can get better.  People are coming here and staying here.  Even when countries hate us, people still come here.  Its American freedoms, American science, but people still vote with their feet and they come here.  One year, I closed six firehouses, raised property taxes and put a smoking ban in and if you can do that you can do anything.