Condom question trips up mayoral candidates in GOP debate

Condoms tripped up the Republican candidates during a recent debate. Credit: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Republican mayoral hopefuls got a little tongue-tied over a question about the city’s free condoms in a televised debate Wednesday night.

Earlier this month, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn promised to improve the quality of the city’s free condoms, which are widely distributed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“There have been a number of complaints that the condoms distributed by the city are not big enough or strong enough, I wonder if you agree and if you would make it a priority,” CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer asked Gristedes boss John Catsimatidis.

“Well, uh…” Catsimatidis said nervously to laughter from the audience. His opponents also smiled. “I disagree with Christine Quinn, as far as distributing condoms to underage kids without their parents’ permission.”

“I think we should buy the strongest condoms we can get,” Catsimatidis added with a grin, causing Lhota to shake his head and laugh in disbelief.

Doe Fund founder George McDonald made a point of tying the condom question back to jobs.

“Whatever condoms we use, I want them made in the city of New York. I want to use the purchasing power of the city of New York to create jobs, all kinds of jobs! These are hi-tech jobs — they have to be safe,” McDonald said, smiling.

Former MTA chairman Joe Lhota used the question as an opportunity to blast Quinn.

“I don’t agree with Christine Quinn. You want to see the ultimate in pandering? It’s exactly what Christine Quinn did,” he said, noting the city will continue to distribute condoms. Lhota added that he agreed the condoms should be made in the city.

It should be noted that everyone, including the debate moderators, giggled a lot during this discussion. It should also be noted that city health officials take the condom issue seriously.

Also during the debate, the candidates sparred about the city’s stop-and-frisk policy.

When asked whether their opinion of the police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice would change if their own children were stopped, the candidates still agreed on its merits for the most part.

Catsimatidis said he would ask his son what he was doing to get stopped, while Lhota said he would go over the protocol with his daughter.

“My son John isn’t going to get stopped,” McDonald said. “That’s the whole point.”

The whole debate can be viewed here.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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