“Did I work across the aisle to get things done? Absolutely,” he said, casting himself as focused on those “who need action today.” “If you’ve got a problem with that, sue me. And you know what? You’ve got 30 other candidates to choose from.”
Mr. Rose, who was the first member of Congress to endorse former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential bid, already appeared to be recalibrating his message. In the interview, he did not say whether he would want Mr. Bloomberg’s endorsement; he highlighted his past criticism of stop-and-frisk policing tactics; and, asked to name the best mayor in his lifetime, he suggested David N. Dinkins.
Still, running from the center may resonate with some New Yorkers who are alarmed by a surge in shootings; worried about businesses leaving and are simply in a less ideological mood these days given the struggles of the city. But Mr. Rose would have competition for those voters, too: Raymond J. McGuire, a longtime Wall Street executive, has attracted the support of many centrist business leaders, a sign of just how competitive every lane of the primary will be. (Mr. Israel, a relative moderate who does not live in the city but intends to contribute financially, is supporting Mr. McGuire, too.)
Then there is the matter of identity.
This year, as issues of police brutality and racism have torn at the fabric of the city and communities of color have been hit disproportionately by the virus and its aftermath, many New Yorkers would like to see a mayor of color. There is a diverse slate of candidates already running, including Mr. Adams; Mr. McGuire; Maya D. Wiley, a former top lawyer for Mr. de Blasio; and Dianne Morales, a former executive of nonprofit social services groups.
“I do think someone of color is best suited for this moment,” said Leah D. Daughtry, a veteran Democratic Party strategist with close ties to New York politics. Asked about Mr. Rose, she said, “I don’t know him.”
Mr. Rose, who devoted his final floor speech in Congress in part to grappling with racial injustice, said that it would be his “No. 1 responsibility,” should he run, to build a diverse campaign and potential administration. But he knows he has some introducing of himself to do.
He met recently with the Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights leader who called Mr. Rose hard-working and “fiery” and said Mr. Rose would “add some excitement to the campaign.”
But even as he moves forward, Mr. Rose said that he was “intent on listening far more than talking.”