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Lhota Slams Harry Belafonte For ‘Race Baiting’ Comments

Actor Calls Koch Brothers 'Evil' And 'White Supremacists'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota each hit the campaign trail Sunday with several events around the city.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, despite being light-years ahead in the polls over Republican opponent Joe Lhota, the Democrat de Blasio has decided to take no chances.

He started the day Sunday at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Ave., where he spoke to teachers. Afterward, he spoke at the First Corinthians Baptist Church, at 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. in Harlem, where he was joined by Harry Belafonte.

Belafonte took aim at a pair of influential Republican donors, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“They make up the heart and the thinking of those who would belong to the KKK. They are white supremacists, they are evil,” Belafonte said, “They’ve come into New York City. They’re beginning to buy their way into city politics. The Koch brothers, that’s their name.”

Charles and David Koch are co-owners of one of the largest private companies in the country. They are also major supporters of the Tea Party.

De Blasio called Belafonte a “voice of wisdom” but did offer some criticism of his remarks on the Koch brothers.

“His characterization is something I do not agree with,” De Blasio said, “I do think the Koch brothers have hurt the American democratic process greatly. I think they have been among the most aggressive in trying to undermine campaign finance laws.”

Early Sunday afternoon, de Blasio held a get-out-the-vote rally with Latinos at City Hall, and on Sunday night, he was to speak at the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, at 77 Conklin Ave. in Brooklyn.

De Blasio also picked up the endorsement of the New York Daily News Sunday, but the newspaper expressed “worrying reservations” about him. The paper said it was crucial for de Blasio to prevent a rise in crime, and added that he “must trade ideology for pragmatism starting on day one.”

De Blasio has been hammering home his proposals to end stop-and-frisk, tax the rick for universal pre-kindergarten, and create 200,000 units of affordable housing.

“New Yorkers believe in big ideas; bold ideas; progressive ideas that move us forward,” de Blasio said at an Upper West Side event Saturday. “New York has led the nation.”

De Blasio has urged supporters not to get complacent, despite his significant leads in the polls against Lhota.

Lhota Responds To Belafonte’s Comments

Meanwhile, Lhota was reaching out to voters throughout the boroughs on Sunday.

As WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported, Lhota began the morning at the beautiful and historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, at 132 Odell Clark Pl. in Harlem. Lhota visited the church with his wife and daughter.

At the church, Lhota delivered a message of inclusion and promised to work for better schools and better paying jobs. He said there is no room in New York for racial profiling.

“I will tell you straight up front when it comes to public safety, I say this everywhere, there is no room, role or need for racial profiling, anywhere, in the city of New York,” he said.

Lhota’s remarks were warmly received at the church, and he was applauded.

The Republican candidate also called on De Blasio to denounce Belafonte and wanted him to demand an apology, CBS 2’s Kramer reported.

“That kind of rhetoric is race baiting and hateful,” Lhota said, “Mr. De Blasio has to address anytime anyone race baits, anytime anyone does any kind of hate language. There’s no room for it in New York and he needs to make sure he doesn’t stand for those kinds of things like Belafonte said.”

Afterward, Lhota headed out to Brooklyn for a Nathan’s hot dog at the Surf Avenue flagship at Coney Island.

At the Coney Island campaign stop, Lhota chatted with Sarah Stillwell, who lives nearby.

“Honestly, I’ve been a lifelong Democrat. I recently changed,” Stillwell said. “I’ve got to say, I really feel that at least he’s down to earth, and he’s come to our community more than once.”

Lhota was also set to attend a rally with the Russian community in Brooklyn, and make stops in Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, as well as Bayside, Queens.

On Saturday, Lhota went door-to-door to spread his message.

“I’m moving forward because I’m optimistic. So, you know the more people I meet the better off it is,” he said.

While meeting with voters, Lhota stressed job creation, education reform, and focusing on public safety.

“Everything good that’s happened over the last 20 years started with the reduction of crime,” he said Saturday.

Joe Lhota walks the boardwalk in Coney Island days before the 2013 Mayoral Election. (Credit Ginny Kosola/WCBS 880)

Joe Lhota walks the boardwalk in Coney Island days before the 2013 Mayoral Election. (Credit Ginny Kosola/WCBS 880)

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