Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking steps to launch an independent bid for the White House, CBS News has confirmed.
A source familiar with Bloomberg's thinking confirmed to CBS News key aspects of a report, first published by The New York Times Saturday, which details Bloomberg's latest moves toward a presidential run -- a possibility the billionaire has considered before.
While Bloomberg, 73, has decided in the past that he would stand little chance of winning, his latest calculations are shifting in light of Donald Trump's popularity among likely Republican voters and the possibility that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders bucks rival Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary race. Bloomberg has told allies he would likely mount a bid if either Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the GOP nomination and if Sanders continues to exceed expectations.
As one Bloomberg adviser told CBS: The current campaign season -- one based on the extremes of either party -- "has him thinking seriously about this."
According to the Times, Bloomberg has already directed his advisers to draw up plans for an independent campaign, and the former mayor has indicated to friends and supporters that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his own money to fund a bid.
Aides have already begun drafting a plan in case Bloomberg decides to jump into the 2016 race. Should he choose to run, the billionaire, who founded a financial data and media empire, would then be primed to deliver several detailed policy speeches. A robust television advertising campaign would further prop up his bid.
One source close to Bloomberg said the former mayor would run as a fiscal conservative capable of tackling another recession and reducing the national debt. On social issues, his campaign would lean more moderate, especially on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
In December, Bloomberg commissioned a poll to determine his chances against Trump and Clinton. He expects to conduct a second round of surveys after the New Hampshire primaries in early February, the Times reports, citing two sources familiar with the billionaire's plans.
Bloomberg intends to make a final decision by early March, after the first nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- and the latest time his advisers believe he could feasibly appear on the general election ballots of all 50 states as an independent.
CBS News' Julianna Goldman and John Dickerson contributed to this report.
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