04/21/2004 at 12:00 AM EDT
Now that Rudolph Giuliani's tenure as mayor of New York City is drawing to a close, TV journalist Geraldo Rivera, 57, has confirmed reports that he is seriously thinking of running for the post. And, he told The New York Times, he doesn't mind if that makes people laugh. "I expect the first reaction to be, 'Geraldo as mayor, ha ha,' " he told the paper. Rivera went on to say that he is prepared to pursue an independent campaign for mayor, following a petition drive to have his name placed on the ballot, and that his campaign would be "totally self-financed" -- even if the tab should run as high as $10 million. He further stated that he is still in the exploration stage at the moment, and that his long-standing activism as a journalist covering civic issues qualifies him for the job. As a final question for the prospective politician, The Times asked whether he would like to be addressed as Mayor Rivera or Mayor Geraldo. "Like Elvis and Lassie and Oprah," he replied diplomatically, "I have one-name recognition."