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FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2014, file photo, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg smiles prior to be conferred with the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur by France's Foreign minister Laurent Fabius, at the Quai d'Orsay, in Paris. A Department of Investigation probe is finding that New York City’s effort to modernize its 911 system is years behind schedule and $700 million over budget. The probe released Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, lays the blame at the feet of the former mayor's administration. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

NEW YORK — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking some early steps toward launching a potential independent campaign for president.

That's according to three people familiar with the billionaire media executive's plans. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly for Bloomberg.

They say Bloomberg would strongly consider running if the general election looked like it would be a contest between Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

They say Bloomberg has set a March deadline to make a decision, and that he hasn't ruled out a bid even if Hillary Clinton is ahead in the Democratic race at that time.

Bloomberg's plans were first reported Saturday by The New York Times.

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