De Blasio Campaign Shy on Public Events

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
September 24, 2013 8:20 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2013 10:02 am

NEW YORK—On primary day in early September Bill de Blasio toured each borough of New York, shaking hands on street corners, and posing for pictures with children and the elderly.

After that evening, his victory speech in Park Slope delivered, de Blasio’s campaign style changed. The public events where he easily engages with New Yorkers have disappeared, replaced with staged endorsement speeches, media avails, and radio/TV appearances.

The Epoch Times reviewed de Blasio’s campaign schedule for the 14 days following the primary election. Four days on the Democratic nominee’s schedule he had no public events, including no public events the entire last weekend (on Sept. 11, traditionally a day free of campaigning, he went to the 9/11 Memorial in his capacity as public advocate).

De Blasio has received a bevy of high-profile endorsements, including from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and rivals Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson, but these events, held on the steps of City Hall, were not open but to a handful of invited quests.

When Sen. Chuck Schumer endorsed de Blasio last week on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, de Blasio did not speak with the throngs of passers-by who were there snapping photos, eager to speak with him following the announcement. Immediately after the endorsement, he was ushered to a waiting vehicle, which has become standard operating procedure.

De Blasio’s actions do not at all mirror his actions in the weeks leading up to the primary, in which he mixed up his television and radio appearances with meet and greets at subway stops and popular street corners.

Earlier Tuesday, Republican challenger Joe Lhota made comments about de Blasio’s public availability after the Democrat refused to accept his debate challenge. Last week Lhota challenged de Blasio to weekly debates leading up to the general election.

“Bill is not meeting with the press, not going public with these issues,” Lhota said after a forum on minority and women owned businesses, which de Blasio did not attend.

“I am very proud to make myself available on a regular basis,” de Blasio said outside the Manhattan Municipal Building Tuesday after being endorsed by Comptroller John Liu. “I have had press availability almost every single day for the last few weeks.”

De Blasio did agree to one additional debate outside of the two mandatory debates set forth by the Campaign Finance Board. They will still all be in Manhattan, despite Lhota urging the candidates to debate in every borough.

“It’s amazing Bill doesn’t want to get his message out there,” Lhota said. “The people of New York deserve to know where we stand and how divergent we are.”

De Blasio argued that three is the largest number of televised pre-general election debates since 1985. In addition, he argued he attended 60 or 70 mayoral forums throughout the summer, giving the people plenty of time to see his ideas.

The change in pace comes after a definitive victory in the primary election (de Blasio received 40 percent, with Thompson coming in second with 26 percent), and a huge lead in the early general election polls. The Sept. 19 Quinnipiac University poll showed de Blasio leading 66 percent to Lhota’s 25 percent.

With such a large lead, de Blasio has found himself the target of new media attacks: a Crains New York piece dismantled his policies as full of holes, and a New York Times piece unearthed de Blasio’s youthful ties to the Sandinistas, a far left party in Nicaragua.

Opening himself up to weekly debates with his rival could prove disastrous, as his candidacy continues to be vetted by the media. The debates would allow Lhota, who proved very studious during the debates with rival John Catsimatidis, to exploit any negative press and give his campaign much needed face time with voters.