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In a surprise move, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election in a Thursday afternoon editorial.

Bloomberg, who had previously said that he would not make a public endorsement in the 2012 race, apparently changed his mind after New York was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, the second named storm to hit America’s largest city in as many years.

“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” Bloomberg wrote.

“We need leadership from the White House — and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks,” the mayor continued. “His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.”

He then went on to praise President Obama’s “Race to the Top” education initative, his defense of a woman’s right to choose, and his support for marriage equality, noting that ” I want our president to be on the right side of history.”

Bloomberg’s support for Obama is not unqualified, however. The New York mayor criticized the president for falling short of his goals on gun control, immigration, tax reform, and deficit reduction. According to Bloomberg, Obama failed to meet these goals because “he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists.”

Still, Bloomberg decided that he could not support Mitt Romney, in large part due to the Republican presidential nominee’s long record of flip-flopping.

“In the past [Romney] has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care,” Bloomberg wrote, “But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health care model he signed into law in Massachusetts.”

“If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him,” he added.

Bloomberg’s endorsement is just the latest sign that President Obama is benefiting politically in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Politicians from both parties have praised the president’s leadership throughout the crisis, and a Washington Post – ABC News poll shows that 78 percent of Americans say that Obama did a “good” or “excellent” job responding to the storm.

In a statement, President Obama said that “I’m honored to have Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement,” and noted that “While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time.”

Read Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s full endorsement of President Obama here.

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