New York Mayor Bill de Blasio jumped into the crowded
White House race Thursday, defying hostile media and
dismal polling numbers to cast himself as the Democrats’
best chance of unseating “con artist” Donald Trump in
The 23rd prospective Democratic challenger to Trump, de
Blasio kicked off with a frontal attack on the Republican
president, dubbing him “Con Don” for claiming he is on the
side of working Americans.
“Donald Trump must be stopped,” he declared in a video
announcing his candidacy. “I know how to take him on.”
De Blasio doubled down at a press conference. “He’s a con
man, and we New Yorkers know a con man when we see
one,” he said, adding: “we’re going to go right at him.”
The campaign “is about putting working people first,” the
mayor said, highlighting his record in America’s most
populous and diverse city.
Trump responded to the announcement by tweeting a video
apparently shot on Air Force One in which he said a De
Blasio win would “never happen.”
“I wish him luck, but really it would be better off if you got
back to New York City and did your job for the little time
you have left.”
Trump, who is visiting his hometown New York for the first
time in months, had earlier in the day skewered De Blasio
as “the worst mayor in the US.”
“He is a JOKE, but if you like high taxes & crime, he’s your
man. NYC HATES HIM!” he wrote on Twitter.
De Blasio had been exploring a possible run for months,
travelling to early voting states Iowa and South Carolina,
both of which he said he would return to in the near future.
His campaign has so far been met with widespread
derision, with polls giving former vice president Joe Biden a
commanding lead among Democratic contenders, followed
by liberal Senator Bernie Sanders.
Democratic polling for de Blasio has been particularly
humbling at home.
An eye-popping 76 percent of New York City voters said de
Blasio should not enter the 2020 race, according to a
Quinnipiac University poll last month.
Shehab, Bobby, Tosin Oshinowo, Others Featured On Visual
Local papers have taunted him for a lack of charisma and
Thursday’s front page of the New York Post tabloid was
particularly scathing: a photo montage of people laughing
hysterically above the headline “De Blasio runs for
– Perpetual underdog –
De Blasio himself touts a string of accomplishments as
mayor: he has introduced free universal pre-kindergarten
and paid sick leave, and early this year he rolled out a plan
to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers.
“What I bring is absolute total focus on putting people first.
I have done it here,” said the 58-year-old, who was first
elected in 2013 and was comfortably re-elected two years
Yet despite the truism that the job of New York mayor is
the second toughest in America after that of president, de
Blasio — sometimes nicknamed “Big Bird” for his lanky, 6-
foot, 5-inch (1.97-meter) frame — is one of the few people
openly confident of his presidential chances.
Asked about the numbers during an ABC television interview
early Thursday, de Blasio replied: “I think you’ll agree that
the poll that actually matters is the election.”
Several protesters gathered outside the studio during that
interview, and New York’s Police Benevolent Association
released a scathing statement about de Blasio.
“It is laughable that a mayor who has shown no interest in
running New York City for six years now says he wants to
mismanage the entire country,” association president
Patrick Lynch said.
De Blasio succeeded billionaire Michael Bloomberg on the
promise of reducing the city’s glaring inequalities.
Since Trump came to power, de Blasio has denounced the
president’s hardening of immigration policy and his decision
to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.
“We must deal with global warming now,” de Blasio told
ABC’s “Good Morning America,” pledging support for the
Green New Deal, a proposal offered by progressive
Democrats that would dramatically shift the United States
away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy.
De Blasio is married to Chirlane McCray, an African-
American woman who for decades identified as a lesbian.
He remains popular in the black community, but Hispanics
are divided and whites mostly view him unfavorably.
Several current and former aides have spoken out in
unusually harsh terms about his White House bid.
But the mayor, who likes to cast himself as a perpetual
underdog, appears to have brushed off the criticism,
confiding recently that the only advice that matters is his