In his first Ask The Mayor segment as a presidential candidate, Mayor Bill de Blasio assured New Yorkers that he is our CEO, and can totally handle running a national political campaign while also attending to the day-to-day business of running a city of 8.5 million people.
"This is my sixth year in this job. I know exactly the agenda that I am implementing—it's very, very developed at this point," de Blasio told WNYC's Brian Lehrer from his first national campaign stop in Gowrie, Iowa, before ticking off the 3-K for all rollout and "keeping the city safe" as mayor stuff that can be done remotely from the campaign trail.
As for the charges that he has not been "engaged" enough as mayor these past few years and that he spends less time at City Hall and just the same amount of time at a Park Slope gym? "That couldn't be more false, Brian."
"And as a CEO, as a chief executive, I'll tell you something: I don't ask people where you're sitting right now or which meeting are you having where. I want to see product," de Blasio said, using a line of argument he tested out on Thursday. (In other words, the 2020 race is a tale of two CEOs.)
"When I look at what this administration has achieved and the people who I've chosen for key roles have achieved, across the board, I see progress and I see product. Becoming the safest big city America, more jobs than we've ever had, an affordable housing program that's the biggest the city's ever seen and is on budget, is ahead of schedule. Come on, let's get real."
Notably, the mayor twice touted his "guaranteed health care" plan.
"Some reporters fail to notice all the new initiatives we keep putting out: guaranteed health care for all, paid time off," the mayor said.
But de Blasio's NYC Care rollout is an initiative to streamline health coverage that has already been available to around 600,000 poor New Yorkers through the city's public hospital system.
Hmmm why would the mayor want to create an impression that he has created some kind of universal health care system that everyone can access?
The mayor also stopped short of saying that a President de Blasio would have his Department of Housing and Urban Development increase funding for the construction of affordable housing, or allow cities to build their public housing again (a Clinton-era federal law prevents local governments from building any more public housing), instead favoring the kinds of rent and zoning controls that have achieved mixed results in New York.
"I think that what we've done with rent regulation is crucial and is needed in many other parts of the country, certainly in a lot of big urban areas in particular," de Blasio said.
"How do you get policies at the federal level that encourage things like stopping illegal eviction? I think it can be done because we've seen it works in New York City. And clearly passing laws either locally, or there's some kind national legislation to require the creation of affordable housing when developers are allowed to build you know in a bigger way than was previously allowed. That's something I think is a really good model that could be used anywhere."
Here’s a little of that conversation
Please note the Zabar’s mug in the corner pic.twitter.com/yJ6WjjJn4o
— Brigid Bergin (@brigidbergin) May 17, 2019
Lehrer also noted the mayor's strong support among Black New Yorkers, and wondered how he could better represent the interests of Black Americans more than Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
"I think for African American voters and all voters, they are not looking first at demographics, they are looking at who can produce for them and their families," de Blasio replied. "And I have a track record of actually achieving progressive outcomes that help working people that I’ll put up against any candidate."
The mayor travels to South Carolina tomorrow, and he'll head back to his day job on Sunday afternoon.