NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota both made appearances Saturday with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who recently celebrated his birthday.
In speaking after their appearances, de Blasio backpedaled on a claim of being a “fiscal conservative,” while Lhota called the government shutdown in Washington “lunacy.”
Sharpton turned 59 on Thursday, and both candidates made appearances Saturday morning at his National Action Network Headquarters, at 106 W. 145th St. in Harlem.
Democrat De Blasio received a standing ovation when he arrived with wife Chirlane McCray and spoke about Sharpton’s civil rights leadership, while Republican Lhota’s greeting was polite, but quiet, according to a New York Daily News report.
Afterward, Lhota said he was not swayed by polls that show him far behind de Blasio.
“The polls aren’t favorable, but the think I took away from the Sienna poll is that many of the positions of the majority of New Yorkers are my positions,” he said. “What I need to do is get out there.”
He also resented attempts to connect him as a Republican with the members of Congress who are being held responsible for the government shutdown, over an attempt to defund President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act in the federal budget.
“I have got to get my word out, and I’ve got to get people to know who I am. You know, people want to tie me to the lunacy that’s going in Washington – lunacy’s not strong enough a word for what’s going on down there,” Lhota said.
Lhota said he will be out campaigning everywhere he can.
“I think my greatest strength – some people think my greatest weakness – is that I’ll talk to everybody. And I’m going to continue to do that,” he said. “I have to do it; I have to do it vigorously to get my message out.”
But de Blasio argued that Lhota was talking about the wrong issues.
“I think, again, my opponent is not talking about the central issues we’re facing,” he said. “He’s not addressing inequality. He’s not talking about how to make sure that more people are able to make ends meet in this city and more people can get a shot.”
De Blasio reiterated his claim that a tax on high income earners is needed.
“The bottom line is, I’ve said, we do need to tax the wealthy – something, obviously, my opponent does not agree with,” he said. “We need to tax those who make over a half million dollars to be able to fix our schools. It’s fundamental to the future of this city.”
On Friday, de Blasio called himself “a progressive activist fiscal conservative, but… still a fiscal conservative” in a speech to business leaders, adding that tax cuts should not be discussed until the city’s financial situation is sorted out. He later added that his “progressive” plan begins with a balanced budget.
On Saturday, de Blasio backed away from the word “conservative.”
“Try on this for size – a fiscally responsible progressive – because what I’m trying to say is to achieve the changes I want to achieve, we must have a sound city government,” he said. “We must have a sound financial plan.”
In response to de Blasio’s “fiscal conservative remark, Lhota said in a statement on Friday: “Another episode of the latest in unreality TV titled ‘Pandering Bill.’ He’ll say anything to anyone to get elected… Cue the laugh track.”
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