On the day after the first debate pitting him against Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio, Republican mayoral contender Joseph Lhota unleashed a dire-sounding ad warning that New York will fall into criminal chaos if de Blasio prevails.
The commericlal features video of the recent FDR Drive motorcyclist attack on a driver and other images of mayhem, including one from the 1991 Crown Heights riots.
Lhota’s former boss, Rudy Giuliani, made the riots a centerpiece of his successful campaign to unseat Mayor David Dinkins two years later. De Blasio was an aide in the Dinkins administration.
“Bill de Blasio’s recklessly dangerous agenda on crime will take us back to this,” warns the narrator on the spot, titled ‘Can’t Go Back.’ (See full video below.)
UPDATE: Lhota’s campaign had to scramble to get agreements from photographers for images used in the commercial, reports said. On Monday, he sent an email out to supporters asking for donations to keep it on the air as the filing deadline for matching funds approached at midnight.
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The ad cites an out-of-context quote from de Blasio that police should visit motorcyle clubs in response to the FDR event, but the subtext is the Democrat’s vehement criticism of the NYPD’s implementation of stop-and-frisk procedures, which served him extremely well in the Democratic primary.
In response to the ad, de Blasio’s campiagn said in a statement to The Jewish Week “Once again Joe Lhota is taking a page out of the Tea Party Republican play book, using a divisive, misleading attack that has already been proven false. Lhota is right that we can’t go back: we shouldn’t return to the days when Republicans like Giuliani used fear tactics to divide New Yorkers against each other.”
De Blasio consistently stuck to the “Republican playbook” line of attack in Tuesday night’s debate on WABC-TV (see video below), striving to counter Lhota’s message that he is a centrist Republican. De Blasio invoked comments Lhota made to a Staten Island Tea Party group that “my philosophical values are very close to yours in many, many ways.”
A previous Lhota ad strived to blur party lines by noting the similarity of the two candidates’ positions on social issues, insisting the only difference between them is on increasing taxes for the wealthy, a de Blasio proposal.
“Do not lump me wth people I am constantly in disagreement with,” Lhota said at one point in the debate. At one point he also sharply criticized Republicans in Congress for their role in the government shutdown, and at another he rapped Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, for suggesting that the city should try to attract more bilionaires, saying it was “insensitive.”
De Blasio took a shot at Lhota’s resume by saying “Mr. Lhota was a top aide to Rudolph Giuliani, the most divisive administration we’ve seen in decades, and Mr. Lhota had a ringside seat, helping to make that happen.”
But de Blasio at one point struggled with a question about his management experience, compared with Lhota’s having been a deputy mayor and chairman of the MTA. When asked if the city might be less safe under his opponent, Lhota said “It might be less safe with him because he’s untested … I can be mayor on day 1 without any training.”
De Blasio countered: “I’ve had lots of experiences that teach me what New Yorkers nees from the grassroots up, and I know how to make New York City deliver for them.”
In one of the more heated exchanges in the debate, de Blasio pointed out that Lhota would retain Ramond Kelly as police commissioner despite pubic objection to stop-and-frisk. Lhota countered that he wouldn’t “bash” the man responsible for making crime rates plummet.
De Blasio then backtracked: “This is a classic Giuliani Republican tactic to say I’m bashing Ray Kelly. I respect Ray Kelly [but] I disagree with him fundamentally on the overuse of stop-and-frisk.”
On de Blasio’s assertion that he would only raise taxes on families earning more than $500,000, Lhota countered that anyone who claims to raise taxes only on the rich “ends up also raisnig taxes on the middle class. Believe me when I say this: He will not stop.”
All recent polls show Lhota badly trailing, by as much as 40 points, in the race to be decided Nov. 5th.