New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasts rival for 'racist' campaign
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an interview that Bill de Blasio, one of the leading candidates to succeed him, had run a racist campaign.
In an interview with New York magazine on Saturday, Bloomberg said he considered it racist of de Blasio to promote his mixed-race family. De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, is black and their teenage son, Dante, appears in his father's campaign adverts.
Bloomberg added that he did not think de Blasio was a racist. But he said, "It's comparable to me pointing out that I'm Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote."
At an appearance in Brooklyn on Saturday with his wife and daughter, Chiara, 18, de Blasio called Bloomberg's remarks "very, very unfortunate and inappropriate".
"I'm exceedingly proud of my family," he added. "I hope the mayor will reconsider what he said. I hope he realises it was inappropriate."
In her response to the mayor's comments about her husband's campaign, McCray said: "Do I look like an inanimate object? Or a tool? I walk, I talk and make my own decisions."
After Bloomberg used the word "racist", his interviewer asked what he meant. The mayor tried to clarify his assessment by saying: "No, no, I mean he's making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching what he's been doing."
The words "No, no" did not appear in the text released by the magazine early on Saturday. But after they had caused a stir in the race just three days before the Democratic and Republican primaries, the magazine amended the quote and added an editor's note explaining that the mayor's office had protested.
The note said "No, no" had been inaudible on the magazine's audio tape of the interview, but in the view of the editors "the added words do not alter the meaning of the exchange".
Bloomberg also seemed annoyed about de Blasio's central theme that poor and working-class New Yorkers have suffered during Bloomberg's three terms while the wealthy have thrived.
"His whole campaign is that there are two different cities here," Bloomberg said, adding, "Tearing people apart with this 'two cities' thing doesn't make any sense to me."
He called de Blasio a "very populist, very left-wing guy" and countered that the prosperous made it possible to provide services to the rest of New York City's residents.
"Wouldn't it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?" Bloomberg remarked.