De Blasio a main target during Democratic mayoral candidate debate

Democratic primary candidates for Mayor of New York City, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Erick Salgado and Bill de Blasio face off with Anthony Weiner, Sal Albanese and John Liu for the first debate at the Town Hall Wednesday, August 21, 2013.  Credit: Ruth Fremson/ The New York Times
From left, Democratic primary candidates for mayor of New York City Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Erick Salgado and Bill de Blasio face off against Anthony Weiner, Sal Albanese and John Liu at Town Hall on Wednesday.
Credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio became a target for his opponents in the second major Democratic primary debate of the election season Wednesday night on NY1.

While last week’s debate saw more attacks against former Congressman Anthony Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, recent polls have shown de Blasio as a frontrunner among voters.

During the debate, de Blasio’s rivals painted him as a flip-flopping late-to-the-game politician on several issues, including hospital closures, which was the subject of the first slam of the night.

“Bill, you’ve been great the last few weeks on the hospital closures. But where were you for the first three years of your public [advocate tenure]?” City Comptroller John Liu said. “It goes without saying … let’s be real here, let’s set the record straight.”

In discussing taxes and school funding, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson also took a swing at de Blasio.

“Let’s be honest with the public tonight. If we’re going to have a real conversation, let’s tell the truth, Bill. No more of the flip-flop, or saying things when it’s politically convenient for you,” Thompson said. “Will the real Bill de Blasio please stand up?”

At one point, when candidates were allowed to ask each other questions, Thompson and Quinn even tag-teamed de Blasio, slamming him for a campaign ad claiming he was the “only candidate” who supported ending the stop-and-frisk era.

“Bill, the New York Times has reported that that ad is inaccurate. Why don’t you take that ad down, Bill?” Thompson said. “Stop lying to the people of New York City.”

De Blasio responded that he was the the only candidate who would do three things to end the controversial police practice, including removing Police Comissioner Ray Kelly, installing an inspector general for the police and supporting the anti-bias bill vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Quinn then stepped in.

“My question is to Comptroller Thompson,” Quinn said. “I want to know if you’re satisfied with the answer you just got.”

Thompson said he wasn’t satisfied and added the response was a “part of a pattern” of dishonesty.

De Blasio joked of the attacks, “In professional wrestling they allow tag teams.”

Throughout the debate, Weiner had to deflect fewer attacks from rivals and managed to get a few laughs from the audience when he said he would support drinking alcohol on stoops, parks and beaches.

Relatively unknown candidates former Brooklyn City Councilman Sal Albanese and the Rev. Erick Salgado at many times decried having less time to speak or less opportunities to air their opinions.

The entirety of debate can be viewed here.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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