NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is lobbying to stay in office an extra three months, and two of the three major candidates vying to replace him say they'll go along with his plan.
Republican Michael Bloomberg and Democrat Mark Green both gave their support after private meetings with Giuliani. Democrat Fernando Ferrer, who faces Green in a runoff Oct. 11, declined.
``I know the politics of the moment might dictate a different position, but I am deeply concerned about the precedent this would set,'' Ferrer said Thursday. The Bronx borough president told cable news channel NY1 he would name Giuliani to oversee the rebuilding efforts instead.
Giuliani's second term expires Dec. 31, and term limits prevent him from running again. But during discussions with at least one of the Democratic candidates, a mayoral aide said Giuliani would consider running on the Conservative Party line if no agreement was reached.
In front of the news cameras, Giuliani has remained focused on the massive recovery effort underway since Sept. 11 when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers.
Behind the scenes, the Republican mayor and his aides have been furiously lobbying to keep Giuliani in City Hall after his term expires _ all in the name of political unity, according to more than a dozen government officials, business leaders and other people close to Giuliani.
Giuliani mentioned the plan at a news conference Thursday, saying ``a lengthy, sensible, thoughtful, careful transition'' was needed.
``It will give people in the city who have fears about what's going to happen, and how it's going to happen, a certain sense of confidence,'' he said.
Campaign representatives for both Green and Bloomberg confirmed Thursday that their candidates would support delaying the mayoral inauguration for up to three months to keep Giuliani in charge.
Details of how that would work are unclear. It would likely need approval from the state Legislature as some type of emergency measure.
The New York Civil Rights Coalition has been critical of the plan, accusing Giuliani of bullying the mayoral candidates and being ``disruptive to electoral democracy.''
Gov. George Pataki, who has praised Giuliani's leadership in the response to the attack, said Thursday that it was premature to say whether he would sign legislation to extend the mayor's term. ``But obviously I would be supportive of any such effort,'' he said.
Giuliani said Bloomberg ``agreed to it immediately.''
Green, who as the city's elected government watchdog has been a frequent critic of the Giuliani administration, agreed because he sees an ``urgent need for a seamless transition and the importance of a united city,'' said Green spokesman Joe DePlasco.
``These unique circumstances justify such a nonpartisan, nontraditional approach to encourage unity and planning,'' DePlasco said.
Bloomberg, the billionaire owner of a financial information business, will face the winner of the Democratic runoff in the Nov. 6 election.