NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bill de Blasio in particular was the target of several barbs Wednesday evening, as seven Democratic mayoral candidates went head-to-head in their third debate.
De Blasio, who serves as the city’s public advocate, went up against Christine Quinn, John Liu, Bill Thompson, Anthony Weiner, Sal Albanese and Erick Salgado at the debate at the Town Hall in Midtown.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, supporters of each of the candidates were out in force before the debate began. But once it was in progress, de Blasio learned that being the perceived frontrunner can also mean becoming the punching bag.
Thompson took issue with a campaign ad that claimed de Blasio was the only candidate who would “end the stop-and-frisk era.”
Thompson said the claim “just isn’t true,” and told de Blasio, “Stop lying to the people of New York City.”
De Blasio retorted that the content of the ad is indeed accurate, based on what he believes is required to stop the program. He said ending “the crisis of stop-and-frisk” requires a new police commissioner, an inspector general overseeing the NYPD and “a law ending racial profiling.”
“My only point is that I am the only candidate that will do the three things necessary to the end stop-and-frisk era, and I stand by it,” de Blasio said.
In what was characterized as a “cross-examination” round in which the candidates were allowed to ask questions of one another, Quinn asked Thompson whether she was satisfied with de Blasio’s answer.
“No, I’m not satisfied with the answer,” he said. “I think that if anything, when you talk about you’re the only one – first, Bill, I definitely don’t need lectures from you on this issue, and I don’t need legislation.”
De Blasio also took Quinn to task about the issue of stop-and-frisk. He accused her of previously voting against “a ban on racial profiling,” and asked if she would vote the same way again.
Quinn accused de Blasio of misrepresenting the bill.
“Racial profiling is already illegal in the city as it should be, and I support that,” she said. “The bill tomorrow is not to ban racial profiling. It is to give individuals the opportunity to go to the state court as well as the federal court.”
Quinn said the federal court system is the proper venue for those who feel they have been treated unfairly by police, and bringing in the state court system could result in conflicting rulings. Thus, Quinn said she does not support the bill.
She also noted that the City Council was planning a vote for Thursday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the NYPD oversight bill that would create an inspector general over the department.
“Unlike the public advocate, who is really good at telling other people what to do but not always so good at getting things done, tomorrow we will put legislation into effect that will have permanent monitoring of our police department,” she said.
De Blasio also addressed the comments by his wife, Chirlane McCray, that appeared in a Wednesday column by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times.
McCray was quoted as saying Christine Quinn was not “the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk about issues like taking care of children at a young age.”
De Blasio said his wife was misquoted and that her comments have nothing to do with the fact that Quinn is a lesbian or that she does not have children.
“It’s very clear,” he said. “My wife meant no offense. She was talking about substantive issues, and she disagreed with Speaker Quinn’s approach.”
But Quinn saw the comments differently, repeating comments earlier in the day that they were “hurtful.”
“They basically raise the question of whether or not the fact that I don’t have children is relevant to how I fight for families,” she said.
But Quinn later defended de Blasio following a remark by Weiner about a federal investigation into the City Council in 2008. The so-called “slush fund’ scandal alleged that city funds were going to nonexistent charities and then rerouted to groups favored by council members for political reasons, according to published reports.
“During the period of time that a lot of this was going on, Bill de Blasio was the assistant majority leader and a member of your budget negotiating team,” Weiner said. “Are you sure Mr. de Blasio is not implicated or mentioned?”
Quinn said she inherited serious problems when it came to the city budget upon taking over as speaker, and that she reported the issues to authorities as required. She went on to ask why Weiner brought up de Blasio at all in his question.
“Casting aspersions on the public advocate like that is just outrageous,” Quinn said. “I don’t have any idea what he’s talking about, and I think it’s really unfortunate.”
The issue of keeping struggling hospitals open was also addressed at length in the debate, with many of the candidates accusing the Bloomberg administration of failing to take action when St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan shut down in 2010.
The candidates also discussed the question of whether to raise taxes on high-income earners, the best means to create jobs in the city and how they would respond to a citywide emergency as mayor.
Salgado and Albanese, who did not participate in a debate last week, complained several times that they were not getting the opportunity to talk.
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