NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who defeated his opponents in 2013 by emphasizing income inequality, is hoping for a similar come-from-behind victory as he enters the crowded Democratic field for president.
De Blasio announced his candidacy through an online video Thursday morning, followed by an anticipated live appearance on Good Morning America in Times Square alongside his wife, Chirlane McCray.
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“Working Americans deserve better and I know we can do it because I’ve done it here in the largest, toughest city in this country,” de Blasio said during the interview. “We have to put working people first.”
In the appearance, he coined President Donald Trump “Con Don,” using the president’s tactic of assigning his opponents pejorative nicknames as he works to position himself as the best candidate to best the president.
De Blasio, who for months publicly weighed whether to enter the race, is the 23rd Democrat to join the race and faces an uphill battle: He is late to enter the field, while other candidates have pulled in millions of dollars, gotten reams of national air time and defined their lanses in the race.
De Blasio’s bid got off to a rough start in his home city.
As he spoke, protesters opposing his bid gathered outside the studio. “We’re trying to help the nation because if you can’t run this city, there’s no way you can run this country,” said Joe Rao, a Long Islander with the police officers’ rank-and-file union that has long been at odds with de Blasio.
And as the mayor touted an emissions reduction bill inside Trump Tower on Monday, he was silenced by opponents who rode the escalator with signs reading “Worst Mayor Ever.”
Later de Blasio is heading to key voting states — first Iowa, where he will address the Truman Club in Sioux City on Friday, then South Carolina for the weekend.
Though he‘s won every election he’s entered, recent polls have shown New Yorkers do not support his bid for the White House.
And, unlike other candidates, he has an around-the-clock executive job that could prove a liability if he is out of town during any type of crisis.
This week, for instance, a departmental trial began for a police officer’s role in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man — an incident that underscored the racial tensions in law enforcement in New York City.
The mayor also missed another extension to name a chairperson to lead the city’s public housing authority, which became so problematic on his watch it is now under the auspices of a federal monitor.
On Monday, a former de Blasio fundraiser was sentenced to four years in jail for his role in a bribery scheme involving the police department.
But de Blasio sees his job as an asset in that it has given him a unique experience that no one else in the race can claim and provided a platform for him to implement his progressive ideas.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in a city or a rural area, a big state, a small state, it doesn’t matter what your ethnicity is — people in every part of this country feel stuck, or even like they’re going backwards. But the rich got richer,” de Blasio says in the three-minute online video.
The spot begins with snippets of interviews with de Blasio as he zips through the bustling city chauffeured in the backseat of a car,and sits in the official mayoral residence of Gracie Mansion discussing his record in New York City. He boasts of supporting a state increase in the minimum wage, ensuring city-funded pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds, signing into law a bill expanding paid sick day requirements for workers.
“There’s plenty of money in this world; there’s plenty of money in this country — it’s just in the wrong hands,” he says in the opening, repeating a line he has used throughout the past few months as he gears up for this campaign.
He and his wife, Chirlane McCray, speak of the need for health care that is “available to all,” including mental health — McCray’s signature initiative that has been beset by financial and accountability problems.
McCray is black and de Blasio’s biracial family played a pivotal role in his 2013 election, highlighted by his son Dante’s afro.
He then pivots to discussing Trump and promises to “take him on.”
“I’m a New Yorker. I’ve known Trump’s a bully for a long time. This is not news to me or anyone else here. And I know how to take him on,” de Blasio continued.
He spoke about the president’s border policy, showing photos of children being separated from parents at the country’s southern border, and images of hurricane flooding.
Whether de Blasio will even qualify for debates or can raise adequate money is unclear: He has only certainly reached 1 percent in two polls, one percentage point shy of the number needed to get on the debate stage. His campaign team believes that a reading of a third poll may end up securing him a spot, spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said.
She also said that money he has been raising since last year for his federal Fairness PAC will not be transferred to a presidential account he plans to file paperwork to open Thursday.
—Samantha Maldonado and Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this report.