NEW YORK -- Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is running for president, breakfasted early Friday at a coffee shop here with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is eyeing an Independent White House bid. VIDEO LINK
Obama picked up the tab for the billionaire Bloomberg, paying in cash and leaving a $10 tip on the $17.34 check.
The breakfast came at Bloomberg's initiative -- Obama had a standing invitation to dine with the mayor, Obama's campaign said. For Obama, who is looking to cut into the New York home field advantage of chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), breakfast with Bloomberg was a win-win to accept.
They talked about the economy, education, homeland security and global warming, an Obama aide said. The tete-a-tete also fueled political speculators to ponder an Obama-Bloomberg ticket -- or the other way around.
Later Friday, Bloomberg, on his "Live from City Hall" weekly radio show, said he and Obama talked about matters in Washington where a senator or a president can make a difference.
Bloomberg last saw Clinton at a Sept. 11 commemoration, his spokesman said. Clinton did not endorse Bloomberg when he ran.
The two political titans ate at the New York Luncheonette at 135 East 50th St. in midtown Manhattan, where they talked for more than 30 minutes. They were seated at a window table on purpose, to create an ultimate photo opportunity.
Photographers snapped away through the glass, while Obama munched his bacon, eggs over easy and toast and Bloomberg his scrambled eggs and potatoes as they both ignored the choreographed spectacle a few feet away.
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs and Obama chief strategist David Axelrod waited outside during the Obama-Bloomberg breakfast summit. Gibbs said: "They are two guys that have, I think long believed that we need to end the game-playing in Washington and get something done, frustrated with that type of politics and a desire to turn the page on that, and get some common sense solutions to the problems that are affecting everyday Americans."
The photo op started as a clandestine operation, the second in two days for the Obama campaign. Obama campaign reporters got a cell call and e-mail near midnight with instructions to meet at a midtown Manhattan street corner at 7:15 a.m.
The night before, there was less than 30 minutes notice to Obama scribes to meet in front of a White Castle in Harlem, which turned out to be a staging area for a photo op with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Obama at a nearby soul-food restaurant.
Bloomberg is the one-time Democrat turned Republican who recently declared himself an Independent and is mulling a presidential run, viable for him because he could pour part of his fortune into a White House campaign.
Obama is pitching himself as the candidate who can appeal to the Bloombergs of the nation. He underscored that point in remarks prepared for Friday's appearance at the Democratic National Committee fall meeting in a Washington suburb.
"I'm attracting more Independents and Republicans to our cause than anyone else in this campaign," Obama said.
Not to concede ground, Clinton, a Chicago native, announced Friday the names of her Illinois Steering Committee.