Bill de Blasio, the Democrat running for New York mayor, got a boost from President Barack Obama last night at a party fundraiser in Manhattan, while the candidate’s son, Dante, drew a compliment on his hairstyle.
Obama singled out the afro-sporting teenager, who was in the audience at the Democratic National Committee event in the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Park Avenue.
Dante “has the same hairdo I had back in 1978,” Obama said. “Although I have to confess, my afro was never that good.”
The president introduced candidate de Blasio, who he has endorsed, as “your next mayor” at the family-oriented fundraiser. De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, has focused much of his campaign on rising inequality among New Yorkers. He has proposed a tax on the wealthiest residents to boost pre-school services for middle-income and poor families.
De Blasio “is going to continue to move New York in a direction where everybody has a chance to get ahead,” Obama said. The president came to the 250-seat fundraiser after speaking on Iran and Syria at the United Nations, and later on his signature health-care law at the Clinton Global Initiative, a charitable group started by former President Bill Clinton.
Polls show de Blasio, 52, more than 40 percentage points ahead of Joseph Lhota, his 58-year-old Republican opponent, who ran the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and was a top aide to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican. In speeches, de Blasio refers to a “Tale of Two Cities” in which almost half of New Yorkers are poor or struggle to make ends meet.
Lhota has called de Blasio’s focus divisive, arguing that the best way to foster opportunity for New Yorkers is by creating middle-income jobs and maintaining order in a city once plagued by crime and fiscal distress. After two decades under Republicans and independents in the mayor’s office, crime rates and welfare participation have dropped while parks, stadiums, retailers and skyscrapers have risen.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, was barred by law from seeking a fourth four-year term.