Accused of Marxism, de Blasio reminds Lhota: ‘It’s 2013’

De Blasio and John Liu. (Dana Rubinstein)
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

"It's 2013, I'd like to note," said Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio this afternoon, standing next to his formal rival John Liu, who had just endorsed him.

The past 48 hours of the race for mayor have, in fact, had something of an anachronistic quality to them.

Yesterday morning, the New York Times ran a story about de Blasio's mid-20-something activism on behalf of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

It wasn't a new story, though it was an in-depth one, complete with a photo of a shaggy-faced de Blasio and the revelation that he had once described himself as an advocate of "democratic socialism."

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

De Blasio speed-walked away from a pack of reporters eager to ask him about the story yesterday. But that didn't make it go away.

Today, at 10:44 am, reporters received a "Statement from Joe Lhota on de Blasio Sandinista Involvement," in which the Republican candidate demanded de Blasio "explain himself—and explain himself now—to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who escaped Marxist tyranny in Asia, Central America, and from behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe."  

"Mr. de Blasio’s involvement with the Sandinistas didn’t happen in 1917; it happened 70 years later when the cruelty and intrinsic failure of communism had become crystal clear to anyone with a modicum of reason," Lhota went on. "Mr. de Blasio’s class warfare strategy in New York City is directly out of the Marxist playbook. Now we know why."

And so today, following Liu's rote endorsement of his former rival, de Blasio faced the media, which mostly just wanted to talk about Nicaragua.

"I've read lots of wonderful books of all different viewpoints," said de Blasio. "And I've been exceedingly consistent throughout my career. I am a progressive who believes in an activist approach to government. You can call it whatever the heck you want."

Lhota's attacks, he said, "are becoming increasingly silly."

Upon further questioning, he said, "I'm proud of the work I did related to Central America. What I'm seeing from the other side is just a classic Republican tactic, a classic right-wing tactic of division."

Why, then, deny his former description of himself as a democratic socialist, as he did yesterday?

"I literally don't remember nor do I understand what he's referring to," said de Blasio.