Is Bloomberg Moving Toward Picking A Side?

From CBS News Director of Political Coverage Steve Chaggaris:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I-New York City, will give political junkies another opportunity to guess who, if anyone, he'll endorse in the presidential race when he delivers a speech at an Independence Party of Minnesota fundraiser Friday morning.

Bloomberg, who'll talk about independent leadership in the context of this year's campaign, is expected to stop short of making a formal endorsement at the $100-per-person fundraiser in Minneapolis, which benefits the Independence Party's slate of candidates in Minnesota.

Meantime, CBS News has learned that during a stop in Minnesota two weeks ago, John McCain met with the party's chairman, Craig Swaggert.

Swaggert has nothing but praise for McCain and the image, disputed by Democrats, that the Arizona senator doesn't vote in lockstep with his party.

"McCain has an independent streak, when you look at his record," Swaggert said. "On important issues, he has regularly taken a stance that's contrary to his party's stance."

As for Barack Obama, Swaggert says he's not sold on Obama's call for change.

"I'm a bit of a skeptic. He excites me because he speaks of change but that diminishes when I look at his record."

Bloomberg is on the record praising both Obama and McCain and has appeared on the same stage as both in recent months.

However, one source with knowledge of the upcoming fundraiser tells CBS News it's highly doubtful Bloomberg's remarks would be at odds with his pro-McCain hosts.

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBS News' senior political editor.