NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg is firing back at reports that he encouraged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to run to succeed him.

The New York Times quoted Bloomberg as saying that Clinton would be "the perfect fit" for the position. The encouraging words allegedly came during a phone call several months ago, but when asked about it this week, the mayor responded, "Did you hear me say that?"

Bloomberg went on to praise mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has long been perceived to have his support for the 2013 race.