By Jill Colvin
CITY HALL — President Barack Obama really isn’t the most arrogant man that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ever met, the mayor clarified Monday.
On Friday, rumors began swirling after Politico reported that Rupert Murdoch told the Australian Financial Review that Bloomberg told him that he had "never met in my life such an arrogant man" after he and Obama spent a day together playing "verbal ping-pong" on the links.
But Bloomberg said that account doesn't ring a bell.
"I don’t remember the conversation that way,” Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference at City Hall.
"I happen to think he’s a very smart guy," the mayor said of Obama, finally adding, after continued pressing, "I do not think he's arrogant" under his breath.
Bloomberg then quickly changed the subject, saying it's time for the nation to move forward.
"I think Rupert Murdoch probably agrees with me, it’s time to move on," he said. "We have to support President Obama no matter what party you're with, whether you agree with his policies or not."
Asked if he'd considered calling the President to clarify the misunderstanding, Bloomberg laughed.
"The President’s in India worrying about a lot more important things, ok?"
"The last thing he needs is a call from me."
Bloomberg was also asked to expand on statements he'd made during his recent trip to China and Hong Kong, which have drawn criticism from some.
The Wall Street Journal quoted the mayor saying that many leaders elected into Congress "can't read," "don't have passports,” and couldn't find China on a map.
But Bloomberg said what he'd meant to convey is that leaders on both sides of the aisle fail to look to the past for guidance about what works and what doesn't.
"It isn't that I said that they can’t read in the sense that they don’t understand the words. They don’t understand the history," he explained.
He cited immigration and the deficit as prime examples.
"If you want to read history, immigrants built this country," he said, later warning that indiscriminate spending is "the way societies fall apart."
From guns on the street to social security, Bloomberg railed that both Democrats and Republican have it wrong.
"I don’t think that this country is really facing the issues that really are the ones that we need to face if we are going to have a future," he warned.
Instead, he urged Americans to learn from other countries who are planning ahead by lining up natural resource and investing in green power, or face damning consequences.
"We sit here and we are more dependent than ever before on foreign oil. And the monies that we're sending overseas are going to finance terrorists or potential terrorism against us…And we don’t do anything about it," he said.
"We've just got to start reading and thinking," he urged.