HELL’S KITCHEN — He’s still got her back.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg heaped praise on City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn Tuesday, following reports that he tried unsuccessfully to court Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for mayor.
Speaking to reporters at a groundbreaking at Hudson Yards, Bloomberg credited what he described as his "phenomenally successful" administration directly to Quinn, who had been widely expected to receive his endorsement in 2013.
"It would not have happened without Chris Quinn being the speaker of the City Council for the last eight years," he said, as Quinn stood by his side. “This woman has made an enormous difference in the city. She's a leader and I have nothing but respect for her."
The New York Times reported late Monday that Bloomberg had called Clinton, a former New York senator, trying to convince her that she would be the perfect in Gracie Mansion.
The report shed new light on the extent to which Bloomberg remains dissatisfied with the current crop of mayoral candidates, who lack the business acumen and outsider status that he brought to the job.
Asked point-blank Tuesday for his assessment of the expected mayoral candidates, which include Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, current Comptroller John Liu and Quinn, Bloomberg remained elusive.
“I don’t know who's going to run. But if you want to start a fight between me and Chris Quinn, you’re not going to do it," he said, adding: "It’s cheap, lousy journalism. This is a woman who's made a big difference in this city.”
Bloomberg refused to confirm the reports, but he also didn’t deny them.
“Why do you think I encouraged Hillary Clinton to run for mayor? I mean, did you hear me say that?” he asked.
Quinn also found herself on the spot after she was asked whether she thought Clinton — a longtime role model — would make a good mayor.
“You know, I think Hillary Clinton would excel in any position she ever takes. And why do I say that? 'Cuz she has," gushed Quinn.
"I don’t think there is anything Hillary Clinton would put her mind to that she wouldn’t do extremely, extremely well," Quinn added. "Better than maybe anybody else who’d ever done it.”