From NBC's Mike Viqueira
Michael Bloomberg stands astride the worlds of business and politics as a very rich and powerful figure in American life. But he still can't control the weather. At least not yet.Bloomberg and bunch of his mayor and congressperson friends were forced to flee for cover when their Washington press conference on gun legislation was hit by a sudden deluge and the sound of thunderclaps this afternoon. The event had started half an hour late to begin with, as several dozen journalists and tourists attracted to all the hubbub waited in smothering heat outside the House Cannon building. Finally there was movement as mayors Fenty and Menino, congressional members McCarthy and Ruppersberger, and several other local pols from around the country filed out of the air conditioned confines. Not one camera lens turned their way.
Most everyone was there to see Bloomberg, size the man up, and try and determine if he is the next Ross Perot. The plan was to get to him after the presser and pop him with questions: Can an independent win the presidential race? Is a message of bipartisanship really a winner? And half a billion of your own money to spend on this thing? Really?
Bloomberg finally emerged, playing to type as he buttonholed a clearly thrilled family from North Carolina visiting the nation's capital here. Schmoozing the mom and patting the dad on the back, he asked where they were from and then suggested that they come to New York sometime. "It's nice and clean now and there isn't a lot of crime," he assured them.
At length he made his way to his waiting colleagues and began the presser. Topic: the controversial Tiarht Amendment, a measure that would restrict access to gun trace data. Critics say that should it pass, law enforcement would not be able to share information necessary to fight gun crime. Bloomberg has led an effort to defeat the measure, today calling it "an insult to the thousands of police officers that face the threat of illegal guns."
Thirteen minutes in, the first big fat dollop of rain splashed onto the lectern, followed 30 seconds later by a very loud, very close-sounding rumble of thunder. Most of the pols had yet to have their turn to speak, but there was nothing to do but run for it. The crowd scattered, and Bloomberg was escorted at double time through the sudden downpour and back into Cannon.