NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – From the five boroughs to the 50 states, Mayor Bill de Blasio has officially joined the 2020 presidential race with a pledge to make things better for working class Americans.
Web Extra: Is it possible for de Blasio to balance his campaign and being mayor?
He’s taken his campaign on the road just hours after launching it. De Blasio heads to Iowa Thursday night, after joining a crowded Democratic field that includes senators, representatives, governors, a former vice president and a fellow mayor.
But many New Yorkers, some who elected him twice, want to know: What about us?
De Blasio’s quest to be president seems right now like the impossible dream, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported. Discouraging polls, a distinct lack of voter enthusiasm and what might be called “the curse of Boss Tweed”: No mayor in 150 years has gone on to higher office.
Remember President Rudolph Giuliani? President John Lindsay? Governor Ed Koch? Of course you don’t, because despite their desperate hunger to rule a bigger roost voters slapped them to the pavement in short order, Kramer reported.
Enter Bill de Blasio, convinced he’ll be the first mayor to grab the brass ring and more to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Web Extra: Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray take questions about presidential bid
Kramer asked what makes him believe he can break that mold.
“Well I intend to break the mold. And I intend to make history. And I intend to win. We have – the truth is Marcia, you’re a student of this history – there’s actually only a couple of people who ever tried to seek higher office and I think each of them each had their own challenges. But the truth is that we’re in an entirely different time. What we use to think of as the ground rules of the democratic process don’t exist anymore. And we’ve seen in the last few years that people all over this country are looking for change. They don’t always look for it in a traditional way or in a traditional package. Chirlane and I represent change. People are going to under that, they’re going to see what happened here,” de Blasio said.
Yes, they are going to see what happened here: The good and the bad, which may be why a lot of people came out to protest de Blasio 2020.
“Can’t run the city! Can’t run the country!” chanted protesters, offering a big Bronx cheer for “Mayor El Progresso,” Kramer reported. De Blasio was slammed him for being a poor manager of NYCHA.
“I would never vote for him, he’s a liar,” protester Olga Delgado said. “I am angry that he’s not helping the older people with housing, that needs help… and I demand answers: Where is the money?… he proposed $400 million and now nothing is happening.”
Rev. David Brawley is angry with de Blasio, saying that he shortchanged seniors.
“We want all of New York to know and all of the country to know that this mayor is disingenuous. He has not kept his word. If he can’t his word here, he will not keep his word for the rest of America,” Brawley said.
PBA protesters were demonstrating about their lack of a contract.
“It is laughable that a mayor who has shown no interest in running New York City for six years now says he wants to mismanage the entire country,” Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement. “While the mayor of our nation’s largest city is busy running around Iowa and getting upstaged by the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, there are real problems here at home. New York City Police officers are continuing to suffer with wages 30% below market rate because the mayor has totally checked out of our contract process.”
“He represents himself as a man of the people, a man of labor. The last thing he’s done is treat the labor of New York City properly,” said PBA board officer Joe Rao.
De Blasio announced his entry into the 2020 Democrat free-for-all with a campaign video that lacked the punch of their “Dante” video that helped him win office in 2013, Kramer reported. But the video did feature wife Chirlane and a picture of them clasping hands, a reference to her controversial ThriveNYC mental health program and a pledge to help the working man.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in a city or a rural area, a big state, a small state. It doesn’t matter what your ethnicity is. People in every part of this country feel stuck, or even like they’re going backwards,” de Blasio says in his campaign video.
De Blasio’s strategy is to run against President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump has a con man’s mentality,” de Blasio said. “He likes to give people nicknames. I’ll give him one back: Con Don. It says everything you need to know about him.”
Trump hasn’t coined a nickname for de Blasio yet, just dismissed him as a joke in one of his epic tweets, Kramer reported.
“The Dems are getting another beauty to join their group. Bill de Blasio of NYC, considered the worst mayor in the U.S., will supposedly be making an announcement for president today. He is a JOKE, but if you like high taxes & crime, he’s your man. NYC HATES HIM!” Trump tweeted.
The mayor has a full schedule of campaign events in Iowa and South Carolina. He did make one pledge about his out of town travel: He will not be away more than nine days.
Under the city charter, the public advocate assumes power after a nine day absence.
De Blasio was asked whether he’ll be able to effectively govern the city while running for president.
“I am going to be on top of each situation here all the time as I always am. And I’ve traveled before and been on the phone here to make sure that everything is moving properly and I will continue to do that. So I am confident that we can make it work,” de Blasio said.
When de Blasio heads to the campaign trail, he’ll have plenty of baggage to bring along, and it’s not just a clean suit and a selection of shirts and ties. His stewardship of the city will go along with him, the home runs and the strikeouts.
Campaign misstep number one? Just days before he entered the Democratic presidential primary, de Blasio held a press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower. Trump supporters held signs and heckled de Blasio, going up and down the same escalators then-citizen Trump used to announce his decision to run for president.
The key takeaway for voters across the country who will be sizing him up to see if he country?
“I’ve said repeatedly… I’m going to spread all over the country the examples of what we’ve done here in New York,” de Blasio said.
Web Extra: Expert Breaks Down De Blasio’s Presidential Run
“More homeless, bad public housing, hints of corruption,” said Doug Muzzio. Muzzio is a professor at Baruch College specializing in American public opinion and voting behavior.
Muzzio says de Blasio has valid achievements including pre-k, family leave and environmental programs such as banning plastic utensils and takeout containers, to name a few.
He’ll also have to live with the fact that he hasn’t been able to get his arms around fixing the city’s crumbling public housing, and the homelessness that’s increased to record levels – 63,000, which is 10,000 more than when he took office. It’s not only overrunning the streets, but also the subways.
The mayor, experts say, will also be forced to take ownership of the corruption: The public housing commissioner who lied about lead poisoning, Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte forced out for using his city car for numerous trips to Maine, where Ponte spent 90 days in one year while Rikers Island violence surged.
De Blasio also had his own narrow escape from campaign finance charges, Kramer reported. There were tales told by Jona Rechnitz, who pleaded guilty and was a government witness. There’s also Jeremy Reichberg, convicted in a pay-to-play case – donations for political favors.
CBS2’s urban affairs expert says it’s incredibly hard for a sitting mayor to run for president, or any office, and that historically, all have failed.
“One of two things happens, either because New York is so big and demands so much of your time that you’re basically distracted from really effectively running for higher office, or if you can manage not to be distracted you don’t do a good job as mayor,” Peters said. “Things go wrong and when they go wrong, they derail your campaign. It’s a no-win situation.”
Muzzoio has a bleak assessment of the mayor’s chances, saying its between “slim and none, and Slim is in Texas.”
But, then again, at this point in 2016 people were saying that about Donald Trump.
De Blasio is now the 24th person running against Trump.
Recent polls, however, show the mayor faces an uphill battle in the race for the White House. One Quinnipiac poll found 76 percent of New York City voters did not want him to run.
While today’s formal announcement may have been expected, it goes against the pledge de Blasio made during a mayoral debate in 2017.
“I’m running for one thing and one thing only: for reelection as mayor of New York City,” he said at the time. “I want to serve for four more years. I will serve for four full years.”