NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Families are largely off limits when it comes to campaign attacks, but on Wednesday, the race for New York City mayor placed City Council Speaker and Democratic candidate Christine Quinn against rival Bill de Blasio’s wife.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the controversy began with comments from Chirlane McCray, the wife of Public Advocate and Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio, that appeared in the New York Times.
In a Wednesday column by Maureen Dowd, 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…”
“I’m a woman, and she’s not speaking to the issues I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way,” McCray elaborated in a recorded interview. “I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of, you know, children at a young age or send them to school and after school.”
De Blasio’s campaign staff said McCray was taking Quinn to task on the “issues,” and “any suggestion otherwise is disingenuous and absurd.”
But Quinn, who is an open lesbian and has just started campaigning with her wife, Kim Catullo, did not see it that way. She took it as an attack on her sexual orientation and the fact that she is not a parent.
“I was sad and I was hurt,” Quinn said. “It’s really inappropriate and saddening for people to comment on other people’s families. I have a family in my apartment – my wife and I – we are a family. And no one should comment about that and make it a political issue – my family – as if it’s something that makes me less capable of being a legislator.”
Quinn’s campaign also issued a lengthy statement about the remarks Wednesday:
“There are women all across the city who don’t have children for any number of reasons, whether they simply can’t, choose not to, or circumstances don’t afford them the possibility. I have taken a number of shots in this race from the men running against me, and I accept that as par for the course in a political campaign. But to criticize me as not understanding what young families go through because I might not have children, is over the line and I take great personal offense to the comment, as does my wife. As young teenage girls, both my wife and I lost our mothers and the decision to have children is a deep and personal one that we should be afforded the opportunity to make, without aspersion.”
Quinn goes on to say, “Here’s what I know about raising a young family: I know that young families struggle every day to provide for their kids, make sure they have a good education, and can afford to give them everything they need. It’s why I led the fight for mandatory kindergarten city-wide, it’s why I increased the number of pre-K slots available in New York City, it’s why I have been a staunch advocate for ensuring that children get access to breakfast at school, and it’s why I have made reforming our public education system one of the cornerstones of my campaign.
I have spoken fondly of Ms. McCray and Mr. de Blasio’s family. It’s unfortunate that they cannot do the same about mine –no matter how different it might be from theirs. But for anyone who is interested, I have a large, loving family of Catullos and Quinns, with 10 nieces and nephews who I absolutely adore, like they’re my own.”
De Blasio campaign manager Bill Hyers issued a statement, saying McCray’s comments were not quoted properly:
“Chirlane McCray was misquoted. As the transcript makes clear, her actual comments were about Speaker Quinn’s unwillingness to listen to the people on education, and paid sick leave, and any suggestion otherwise is disingenuous and absurd. From the closure of St. Vincent’s to the delay of paid sick leave to term limits, Speaker Quinn owns a history of ignoring everyday New Yorkers. Speaker Quinn’s refusal to ask the wealthy to pay a little more on taxes to ensure universal pre-kindergarten for every four-year old — Bill de Blasio’s signature issue — is another example. It is wrong for Speaker Quinn and her campaign to distort and confuse with baseless attacks in order to distract from the Speaker’s indefensible policy record.”
The Times later issued a correction and posted the following online:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
An earlier version of this column incorrectly quoted a response by Chirlane McCray, the wife of Bill de Blasio to a question about Christine Quinn. The column has been updated to reflect the full response.
Click here to read Dowd’s column .
The personal punches and counterpunches came with Quinn and de Blasio battling for the lead in the polls. And both of them have used their families in the campaign.
De Blasio has made headlines for using his 15-year-old son, Dante, in campaign ads, while Quinn has been hitting the trail with wife Catullo.
Quinn has slammed de Blasio for a series of career flip-flops, including favoring the extension of term limits before he was against it.
De Blasio in turn has slammed Quinn on the stop-and-frisk policing policy, saying she would keep stop-and-frisk proponent and defender Ray Kelly as police commissioner.
Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner also has used his wife, Huma Abedin, in his campaign. She also appeared at a news conference to talk about why she forgave him for his sexting scandal.
Kramer said more acrimony might be coming at the Democratic mayoral candidates’ debate at 7 p.m.
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