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Could Bloomberg mount a viable independent bid in '08?

It's not out of the question, analysts say. His money and track record as mayor could help.

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Improbable? Yes. But impossible? Maybe not.

So goes the evolving political wisdom about whether a third- party presidential bid by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be viable.

On Tuesday, when the billionaire businessman turned politician announced he was formally leaving the GOP to become an independent, he sent tremors through the nation's political chattering classes.

No third-party presidential candidate has ever won the White House, let alone a former mayor of New York. Yet no other third party candidate has ever had Mr. Bloomberg's unique combination of qualities: $4 billion to $5 billion in the bank, a solid record in high elective office, and a penchant for doing the seemingly impossible.

"At some point in American history – I'll be dead probably – ... we are going to have an independent president," says Larry Sabato, political analyst at the University of Virginia. "The conditions necessary are present for 2008: a very unhappy electorate with neither party producing a candidate who can bring people together. So it's not impossible." But it is improbable, he adds.

And other political analysts agree.

It isn't because Bloomberg doesn't have charisma. The short, divorced, Jewish father of two has proven he has plenty of that, winning fans in working-class Queens and on the upscale Upper East Side .

The CEO turned top city executive has governed with a no-nonsense, nonpartisan, and results-oriented politics. In his statement announcing the severance of his ties with the GOP, Bloomberg made it clear that he'd like to bring his brand of pragmatic politics to a national level.

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