NEW YORK—The morning after the first mayoral debate, Republican nominee Joe Lhota released a powerful new television ad taking aim at Democratic rival Bill de Blasio’s stance on crime.
Using images of the recent biker gang attack on the West Side Highway, and historical images from crime-ridden New York City of the 1970s and 1980s, the ad attempts to instill fear in the viewer that a vote for de Blasio will “take New York backward.”
In the 30-second spot, titled “Can’t Go Back,” a voice-over says that de Blasio voted to take 5,000 police officers off the streets, and that he would sit down and talk with biker gangs.
In the mayoral candidates’ debate on Oct. 15, de Blasio walked back his comments about the biker gangs, which were printed in a New York Post article, saying he would not tolerate the behavior of the groups, but he still believed sitting down and talking with them would be proactive.
“Whether it is attacking Ray Kelly and the NYPD or saying his plans for dealing with violent criminals is to sit down with them and talk, Bill de Blasio’s weak stance on crime will take us back to days New Yorkers don’t want to ever experience again,” said Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud in a statement.
Crime in the city is at record lows, and the two candidates differ greatly on how they will keep it that way if elected. Lhota, who was a deputy mayor under former mayor Rudy Giuliani, has said he would keep Ray Kelly on as police commissioner (Kelly has not committed to returning to the post), and believes the controversial police practice of stop and frisk should be continued, albeit constitutionally.
Lhota’s policing policies aline more with the current administration, which has been successful in keeping murders down, but has created intense distrust in certain neighborhoods due to the frequent use of stop and frisk.
Lhota has repeatedly said he would not tolerate racial profiling in stop and frisk. Following Tuesday’s debate, he said he would take action against any police officer who racially profiled people.
“If you break the law, you need to be prosecuted,” Lhota said. “I don’t care if you are a cop, or a man on the street, or myself. You need to be prosecuted if you violate someone’s civil liberties.”
The de Blasio campaign hit its stride over the summer when claiming de Blasio would “end the stop and frisk era” of the Bloomberg years.
The message also gained steam after a federal judge ruled stop and frisk was being done unconstitutionally in the city, and the City Council passed two bills aimed at reforming the practice.
De Blasio said he would bring in a new police chief and work on community policing to improve relationships between the police and residents. Despite the repackaging, de Blasio said he would not discontinue stop and frisk, only how it is used.