Bloomberg gets third degree

February 15, 2008 7:49:20 AM PST
Mayor Michael Bloomberg faces the notorious New York City press corps several times a week, but nothing prepared him for the grilling he got Thursday from a group of third-graders.

The kids at a public school in Harlem, where Bloomberg was holding a news conference down the hall, disarmed the potential presidential candidate by singing "Happy Birthday" to honor the billionaire, who turned 66 on Thursday.

Then they got down to business.

"Are you rich?" asked one little boy.

"Am I what? I can't hear you," Bloomberg said.

The boy repeated his question, and the mayor demurred, pointing out that he works for just $1 a year.

Then another kid piped up, wanting to know if Bloomberg lives in the White House.

"I don't live in the White House," the mayor told the class.

"I live on the east side of Manhattan, and I've lived there for 20 years in that house. But I've lived here since 1966, in New York."

The group was impressed. This made him seem even more ancient than they thought. Earlier, when they tried to guess his age, the roomful of 8 and 9-year-olds started high, at 107.

But now, the kids were just warming up. They fired more questions: Have you ever met the president? Yes, he has.

Who are you going to vote for? I'm not telling.

Do you have a million dollars?

"I don't have - I have a wonderful birthday card," Bloomberg said, holding up the creation that they had made for him. "And this is really nice. So, OK, I better get going."