NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City mayoral candidate Bo Dietl is defending himself amid calls for the Republican to withdraw from the race after he was accused of making a racist remark.
During a candidate forum Wednesday, Dietl talked about a judge who blocked him from running in the Democratic mayoral primary this year because of a paperwork error.
“I checked two boxes, because I wanted to run as an independent and a Democrat, but I always wanted that independent line. You know what happened? They threw me off. And you know what happened? I went to Supreme Court, and de Blasio had three lawyers there, and the judge wouldn’t even hear the defense. And you know what they said to me? They said to me, ‘You are a man with no party,’” Dietl said at the event. “That just got me – this is just de Blasio’s tentacles reaching – first of all, the judge looked like Chirlane de Blasio, and as soon as I saw her – as soon as I saw her – I knew I had a problem. She wouldn’t let me talk.”
Watch his comments:
Both Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Debra James and the mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray – who goes by her maiden name – are black.
Dietl is known for his shoot-from-the-hip style, but now the big question is whether he shot himself in the foot.
During a press conference Friday, Dietl there was nothing racist and no malice in his comment.
“My thought was it looked like the mayor’s wife and I said maybe the mayor put his wife in there to make a judgment against me. I was kidding. You know what kidding is?” Dietl said. “In my mind I said to myself, ‘Wait a second she looks just like the mayor’s wife. She looks just like her.’ So where is the racist part in that? I don’t understand. She has the same smile, same eyes.”
“There was nothing racial nor was there any racial offense intended,” he added.
Dietl said he’s not sure he owes anyone an apology, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.
“What would I apologize for Ms. McCray because she looks similar to the other lady, the judge? If they want me to apologize? If she really was affected? She doesn’t wan’t to look like the judge? They’re both beautiful women,” Dietl said.
On Friday both the New York Daily News and The New York Post ran editorials calling on him to pull out of the race.
Dietl blasted both papers, and vowed to stay in the race as a third party candidate if necessary.
“I am running for mayor, and I’m sorry New York Post and The New York Daily News, whoever doesn’t want to endorse me,” Dietl said.
“I’ve got to let people know, all the people out there, I am running for mayor. I will be there in November,” he insisted.
Fellow GOP candidate Paul Massey said Thursday that Dietl had made a “racist remark,” and said it “shows why (Dietl) has no place in the Republican Party,” Politico reported.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who is also seeking the GOP nod, said the comments were “unfitting for someone who wants to be mayor of New York City.”
Mayor de Blasio slammed Dietl over the remark.
“You know there is supposed to be respect for the judiciary,” de Blasio said.
The mayor drew a direct line to President Donald Trump’s comments about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presided over the Trump University lawsuits. Trump at one point claimed that Curiel could not preside fairly over the case because the judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wanted to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Curiel was born in Indiana.
“‘Oh, that judge made that decision because they’re white, because they’re black because they’re a man, because they’re a woman, because they are from another country’ — I’ve never heard that talk before Donald Trump started it,” de Blasio said. “And now, Bo Dietl is continuing it. It’s not American. It’s just not American.”
Asked what McCray thinks, de Blasio said she does not pay attention to Dietl.
“It was an inappropriate comment,” he said. “I don’t think people are going to take him seriously.”
As CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, voters had mixed reactions.
“It could have been misconstrued as that, it’s hard to say. I know people like that kind of slip it in there in a certain way, so you don’t know what they really say,” Susan Bucci, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, said.
“Everybody’s too sensitive now. That’s why the country is so messed up,” Richard Smith, of the Upper West Side, said. “It’s not racist at all. He just said something.”
“I don’t know if it’s a racist remark. It’s inappropriate remark,” said Leonard Kerson, of Greenwhich Village. “I think it’s a stupid thing to say. If he’s a public figure, he’s trying to be a public figure, it doesn’t show much savoir faire.”
To clarify, Dietl’s comment was about a court hearing to run in the Democratic primary, but he actually made it at a forum to get into the Republican primary, Kramer reported. He was a Republican, but because he wanted to run as a Democrat, he needed a special ruling to get into the Republican primary. Otherwise, he has to run as an Independent or seek other party lines.
In addition to being a former NYPD detective, Dietl is also a businessman, an author, and an actor. Among his credits is a star turn in “Wolf of Wall Street” with Leonardo DiCaprio.