Mayor de Blasio’s presidential pipedream may be down to its final puffs of smoke, Hizzoner admitted during an unrelated Sept. 4 press conference.
While he previously downplayed the importance of being part of the Democratic presidential debates by citing other media opportunities, from an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show in early August to a more-recent CNN Town Hall, he acknowledged that being excluded from the Sept. 12 candidates’ face-off was a missed opportunity and he’d consider dropping out if he doesn’t qualify for the October debate.
The qualifying threshold will be the same: by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 1 he will need to have at least 130,000 individual donors and have gotten 2 percent or better in at least four national or early-voting-state polls such as Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. Until now, he has struggled to reach 1 percent in any poll.
“I’m going to go and try to get into the October debates, and if I can, then I think that’s a good reason to keep going forward,” he said at Police Headquarters following a press conference on city crime statistics. “And if I can’t, I think it’s really tough to conceive of continuing.”
It was one of the increasingly rare occasions on which he was fielding questions that were not the subject of a press conference—one of the consequences of his spending so much time on the campaign trail since he launched his presidential bid in May.
He has gotten increasing heat from the local news media—which he has sometimes ducked while making himself available to reporters from national outlets and obscure websites—over his seeming disinterest in municipal affairs. The New York Post on Labor Day published a story stating that he spent just 7 hours at City Hall during May, based on his schedules, and the Daily News editorial board asserted that he spent just 91.5 hours on official city business, whether there or elsewhere, that month based on an analysis of his itineraries.
Mr. de Blasio nonetheless characterized his schedule as one that starts at 6 a.m. and runs through 10 p.m. and contended that the familiarity he’d gained with city government operations over his first 68 months in office increasingly allowed him to keep his hand on the tiller no matter where he was geographically. “There’s countless phone calls, countless emails, checking in on all different leaders of different agencies and folks at City Hall,” he said, noting that he had gotten several agencies to respond to a report in that morning’s Post—which he declined to credit—about a Queens woman whose accumulation of garbage bags spilling out of her front and back yards had become an increasing concern to her neighbors.
While some critics have claimed his lack of headway, not only in the polls but in failing to attract crowds of any size while campaigning in several states, made his run a vanity project, the Mayor insisted, “I don’t run for anything if I don’t think there’s a chance of winning.”
He also lamented that while his time as Mayor has given him the kind of executive experience most of the Democratic candidates lack, that hasn’t worked to his advantage, and if anything has created problems because he is expected to be devoted to his day job while Senators, for example, are given a pass, particularly during Congress’s month-long summer recess.
As to the perception that he has lost interest in his city job, he denied that, and took issue with a reporter who said that perception can become reality. “I’m not here to satisfy someone’s perception desires,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I’m here to serve the people of New York City and improve their lives.”
And no, his experience has not convinced him other city workers should be given the freedom to work remotely, saying his job can’t be compared to that of ordinary staffers.
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