This post has been updated since Dec. 3 to include Mayor Bloomberg's response to the report. 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and encouraged her to run for mayor in 2013, the New York Times reports.

Much about the call, which occurred some months ago, remains shrouded in mystery. But Mr. Bloomberg’s overture to the former first lady highlights the level of his anxiety about the current crop of candidates, his eagerness to recruit a replacement who can rival his stature and his determination to become a kingmaker in the political arena he will soon exit.

Clinton reportedly made clear that she had no interest in the job. After getting the city's term limits changed from two terms to three, allowing him 12 consecutive years in office, Bloomberg will be forced to leave his post at the end of next year. 

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reacted with annoyance to the report but did not deny it. 

"Why do you think I encouraged Hillary Clinton to run for mayor?" he asked a reporter who inquired about the story. "I mean, did you hear me say that?"

Bloomberg was appearing with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, widely considered a likely mayoral candidate. When the Wall Street Journal asked Bloomberg if he was dissatisfied with his would-be successors, the mayor again responded indignantly. 

“I don’t know who’s going to run," he said. "But if you want to start a fight between me and Chris Quinn, you’re not going to do it. It’s cheap, lousy journalism.”