Michael Bloomberg Draws Fire After Accusing Bill de Blasio of 'Racist' Mayor Run

Democrats Say Mayor Should Leave Family Out of Politics

getty images

By Reuters

Published September 07, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the Democratic front-runner to succeed him as mayor is waging a “class warfare and racist” campaign, according to an interview published on New York Magazine’s website on Saturday.

Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate who has built his campaign around the issue of rising economic inequality, has been surging in public polls, overtaking the longtime front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg ally.

“Tearing people apart with this ‘two cities’ thing doesn’t make any sense to me,” Bloomberg is quoted as saying. When the interviewer offers that de Blasio “has in some ways been running a class-warfare campaign, Bloomberg cuts in, “class warfare and racist.”

He pointed out that de Blasio had used his biracial son in a campaign ad, but then conceded that for the candidate, whose wife is African-American, to reach out to black voters might be little different from Bloomberg, who is Jewish, reaching out to Jewish voters.

Pressed specifically about his use of the term “racist,” Bloomberg said, “Well, no, no,” before adding, “He’s making an appeal using his family to gain support.”

With Tuesday’s primary contests looming, Bloomberg also offered a tacit endorsement of Quinn on the Democratic side and, on the Republican side, Joe Lhota, the former head of the city’s mass transit agency, saying the New York Times endorsement of those candidates got it right.

“I thought the Times was right in their editorials on Lhota and Quinn. I’m very pleased about that,” Bloomberg said.

As Speaker, Quinn “did a very good job for seven and a half years of keeping legislation that never should have made it to the floor, that would have been damaging to the city, from ever getting there,” Bloomberg said.

At an event in Brooklyn, de Blasio said the comments were “very unfortunate.”

“We are living in a tale of two cities, and ignoring it isn’t going to move us forward,” de Blasio told an event in Brooklyn. He cited an analysis published in April that 46 percent of New Yorkers were living in or near poverty.

Since taking office in 2002, Bloomberg has been credited with a historic drop in crime, sweeping changes to the city’s public schools and making New York a national leader on public health and carbon reduction. But the billionaire mayor is often criticized for appearing out of touch on issues such as the city’s affordability and services for the poor and the homeless.

None of the Democratic candidates have openly sought his endorsement.

Bloomberg’s decision, four years ago, to seek a change to the city’s term-limits law so he could run for a third term damaged the reputation of Quinn, who supported that decision. De Blasio emerged as one of the loudest opponents of the change, and the fight helped elevate his stature in the city.

‘OUR POOR ARE WEALTHY’

In the magazine interview, Bloomberg reserved his strongest words for de Blasio, who is white, taking issue in particular with the visible role played by the candidate’s wife, Chirlane McCray, who is black, and their two children.

De Blasio’s son, Dante, who is biracial and wears his hair in a tall Afro, starred in a campaign ad that promoted de Blasio’s opposition to the controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactic that overwhelmingly targets young black and Latino men.

“I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing,” Bloomberg told the magazine. “I do not think he himself is racist. It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote. You tailor messages to your audiences and address issues you think your audience cares about.”

Bloomberg also took issue with criticism that the city’s poor have suffered during his three terms in office, which comes to an end in 2014.

“I’m not being cavalier about it, but most places in the world our poor are wealthy. There’s a lot of tragedy around the world,” Bloomberg said.

Previous measures of poverty looked at income and not services available to individuals - like air conditioning, which Bloomberg said was available to most Americans.

“When we grew up we didn’t have air-conditioning. Air-conditioning in the schools, the subways. Are you crazy? Now, by most of the world’s standards, you ain’t poor,” he said.

And as for de Blasio’s concept of two New Yorks, Bloomberg said that, if true, “it’s one group paying for services for the other.”

As the Democratic candidates criss-crossed the city in a flurry of last-minute campaigning, de Blasio’s rivals denounced Bloomberg’s comments.

Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller who hopes to make it into a run-off election with either de Blasio or Quinn after Tuesday’s primary, called the comments, especially those about the city’s poor, “offensive and callous.”

Quinn said the remarks were “inappropriate, especially because they involved Mr. de Blasio’s family.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.