De Blasio rallies supporters, who raise expectations

De Blasio. (Azi Paybarah.)
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“We are about to elect the most progressive mayor this country has ever seen,” Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer told the crowd at a rally on the Upper West Side on Saturday afternoon.

With a 40-point lead over his Republican opponent heading into Tuesday’s mayoral election, Bill de Blasio's supporters are giddy. And at two get-out-the-vote rallies in Manhattan on Saturday, they set a high bar for the city's first Democratic mayor in 20 years.

"The last time we elected a Democrat the internet wasn’t even invented," said State Senator Brad Hoylman at the Upper West Side rally. "Subway tokens…were a buck-25 [and] Miley Cyrus wasn’t even born.”

Actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte said de Blasio maybe should serve 12 years as mayor, not just eight, “because I maintain that, politically, when you got a good thing, don’t get rid of it.”

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De Blasio, who campaigned against Mayor Bloomberg's extension of term limits, stood off stage, waving his arms, shaking his head and mouthing the word “No” for all to see.

After his Get Out the Vote Rally on the Upper West Side, de Blasio attended a similar “Women for de Blasio” rally at Foley Square, which featured actors Susan Sarandon and Cynthia Nixon, an early supporter who the candidate said was the “the consciousness of this campaign”.

There, de Blasio said “we have enough luxury condos,” and that “we need to defend our hospitals” from closing down. He also pushed his plan for universal pre-kindergarten classes, telling the crowd “we owe it to parents to help them do their job.”

But the day of rallying got off to a late start. De Blasio arrived at his first rally, by 74th Street and Broadway more than 40 minutes late. A source said it was because he overslept.

"I had a challenging night," de Blasio said, when asked about it at the Foley Square rally. "I got a call at 5 in the morning that threw off my sleep cycle. Other than that, it’s all good.”

He jokingly challenged the phrasing of Daily News’ reporter Mara Gay suggesting he “overslept,” saying he preferred to call it a “divided sleep.”

“Are you a morning person?” she asked him.

He said he was not and that “I think we should re-orient our society to stay up late. But I don’t think that’s happening right now.”

Asked what percentage of the vote he needed to win on Tuesday in order to claim the mandate for his progressive agenda, de Blasio demurred, and said, “You’ll know it when you see it.”

With a massive lead entering the final weekend of the campaign, de Blasio is spending his days at a few staged events, packed with sign-holding supporters and colleagues, who invariably praise their party's nominee.

He is not doing much in the way of retail campaigning: shaking hands at subways, kissing babies or letting the public have unscripted, unfettered access.

"We're doing, I think, the typical thing; the rallies to get, you know, troops ready to go out and do what they need to do in these last few days," said de Blasio, who managed Rep. Charlie Rangel's re-election in 1994, and Hillary Clinton's campaign for Senate in 2000. "The activists, the volunteers, the rallies, that's really where you're going to have the multiplier effect."

He told reporters at Foley Square “the army we had on the streets on Primary Day will seem small compared to what you see on general election day. It’s going to be a decisive effort.”

Asked about “the most progressive mayor” in America title bestowed upon him by Stringer, de Blasio said, “I’m a progressive and I’m proud to be a progressive,” and said he hopes “to show some of the things we can get done through local government. But I would not have claimed that mantle. I think that mantle was claimed a long time ago by Fiorello LaGuardia.”