Despite repeated insistence that he’s just one viral moment away from an upswing that could reset the course of his struggling presidential campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged Wednesday he may be forced to bow out of the race if he fails to qualify for the October debate.
“I think the logical thing to say is, you know, I'm going to go and try and get into the October debates and if I can, I think that's a good reason to keep going forward,” de Blasio said at a press conference about the August crime statistics. “If I can't,” he added, “I think it's really tough to conceive of continuing.”
His comments mark the mayor’s first acknowledgement that his presidential bid might end months before any voters caucus or cast ballots. The deadline to qualify for the next televised debate is October 1. They also come amidst increasing scrutiny over how much time the mayor is spending on the campaign trail versus how much time he’s devoting to the job he currently holds.
As recently as Tuesday, the mayor was absent from two major administration announcements, including one related to the end of a historic measles outbreak. The other was to announce the appointment of Deborah Lauter as executive director for the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes amidst an ongoing spike of hate crime and bias activity across the city.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, de Blasio insisted his schedules only tell part of the story.
“You have a certain amount of scheduled activity and then you have an incessant amount of unscheduled activity,” said de Blasio. He added, “I wish I could put it into human terms for you what it's like, that it is literally all the time and never ever ever goes away. And that's the job that you choose to take when you're mayor. But it is being responsible for all of it all the time.”
His days often start around 6 a.m, he said, and can stretch until 10 or 11 at night. Case in point, he said he was emailing several of his commissioners this morning to see what could be done to address the NYPost’s report of a home in Queens overflowing with trash in the front yard leading to a rat infestation. Those types of conversations happen repeatedly throughout any given day and are not reflected on his official schedule, de Blasio said.
It’s also a “huge amount of work” to both run for president while managing the demands of being mayor. It’s a day-job that does not lend itself to the kind of constant campaigning candidates who are not CEO’s can embark on, he explained, as opposed to someone like himself who may need to be on scene to make decisions
“The irony is our current political system basically encourages folks to run for president who don't have a substantial executive job at that moment,” de Blasio said. “I think the reality, the demands of schedule, and the way that campaigns are starting earlier and earlier is really making it much easier for someone who is not a chief executive with a current job to run. And look there's still a lot of good people out there but it has created an interesting contradiction.”
The threshold the mayor needs to meet for the October debate is the same one he did not meet to qualify for the September debate. Candidates need 130,000 unique donors and two percent or more in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee. The DNC set October 12 and 13 as the dates for the next round of debates.
According to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, de Blasio was holding steady at just one percent. A spokeswoman for de Blasio’s campaign would not reveal the current number of donors to date and referred to the next campaign filing, which is due in mid-October.
Still the mayor insisted, he would not be running if he didn’t believe there was still a chance he could win, pointing to recent media appearances on FOX, CNN, and other outlets as examples of how he is getting his message out.
“I'll keep doing more of that and seeing if there's a way of getting that next debate,” said de Blasio, “it’s as simple as that.”