CHICAGO – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he’s not running for president, but on Wednesday night he revved up to full campaigning mode when accepting an award from CME Group, the big futures exchanges.  rtr1zc7z.jpg

“We are desperately in need of leadership to deal with a much more competitive world,” said Bloomberg, stopping just short of announcing his candidacy for — anything.  
Riffing on the theme of “innovation as the essence of leadership” upon receiving CME’s Fred Arditti Innovation Award, Bloomberg electrified the well-heeled audience at the swanky Peninsula Hotel with a call for action on everything from climate change to education to immigration reform.  
“Choices made now will determine what kind of future our children will have. At a national level we’re working as hard as we can to stop innovation,” the Democrat-turned Republican-turned Independent said.  

Energy independence and efficiency led Bloomberg’s list of underfunded programs. “We spend one-third on that of what members of Congress spend on earmarks every year. It’s up to all of us to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire,” Bloomberg said.  
Restrictions on H-1B work visas mean the United States risks losing out in a much more competitive world, Bloomberg said, adding that American capitalist success stories like Sun Microsystems, Yahoo and Google were all founded in part by immigrants.  
“Medicine is going overseas. Science is going overseas. We are exporting our intellectual capital, and we can’t keep doing it,” Bloomberg said “If we don’t find ways to get around that, then we really are in trouble.”  
Bloomberg, whose term as New York mayor ends on Dec 31, 2009, also hailed the concept of term limits — raising a few eyebrows within an audience that included Chicago’s “Mayor for Life” Richard M. Daley. 

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- Photo credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton (Bloomberg earlier this month with Republican presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.)