Bill de Blasio is officially selling something few people seem eager to buy.
The New York City mayor announced his 2020 presidential campaign Thursday in a YouTube video that jumped between a jazzy montage of meeting the city's residents and a somber call to action on the threats of climate change, Donald Trump, and inequality.
“There’s plenty of money in this world,” de Blasio said in the video. “There’s plenty of money in this country. It’s just in the wrong hands.”
The mayor is slated to hit the road in Iowa and South Carolina in the coming days for his first official campaign events. He’s joining a huge Democratic field where every political lane appears reliably filled.
Yet the progressive de Blasio hopes to elbow his way in with the same tale-of-two-cities narrative that catapulted him to the New York mayoralty in 2013.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in a city or rural area, a big state or small state,” de Blasio said. “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.”
But de Blasio has a long, hard road ahead of him convincing the country he has the chops for the White House. Public opinion polls have shown him swirling around the drain of the large Democratic primary field. An April Quinnipiac survey suggested that 76 percent of New York City voters think he should stay out of the race.
“Every listed party, gender, racial, borough and age group agrees that the mayor should not hit the campaign trail,” according to Quinnipiac.
Local media can often help catapult politicians to national prominence, but the New York press corps has feasted on de Blasio’s abysmal numbers. A sworn enemy of the city’s tabloids, the mayor makes for a slow-moving target with a penchant for being late and a preternatural affinity for his home neighborhood’s YMCA.
The city’s political class has not wasted the opportunity to take anonymous potshots at de Blasio in the highly incredulous coverage of his presidential aspirations. As one unnamed source bravely told the Daily News, “He may have a shot if every Democratic candidate is caught sending racy selfies to minors.”
Still, De Blasio suggested Thursday that he’ll frame his bid for president as one New Yorker against another who stumbled his way to the White House.
“I’m a New Yorker. I’ve known Trump’s a bully for a long time,” de Blasio said. “This is not news to me or anyone else here. And I know how to take him on.”
An early preview of that potential fight came Monday, when the mayor held a campaign-style rally for a citywide Green New Deal in the public lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan.
While De Blasio railed on potential pollution-related fines at the president’s properties, the building blasted music over its speakers that drowned out some of the campaign-style event. Trump supporters rode up and down an escalator behind de Blasio carrying placards that said “WORST MAYOR EVER.”
De Blasio’s presidential announcement was also interrupted — by a high school journalist. The student, Gabe Fleisher, spotted a Facebook page for an event in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday that billed itself as the “first stop on his presidential announcement tour.” The event page, which was quickly taken down, also happened to incorrectly spell the mayor’s name as “Bill di Blasio.”
Fleisher writes a morning political newsletter called “Wake Up to Politics” from his bedroom. He quickly posted the scoop to Twitter before the rest of the political press corps.
“I was pretty excited, and it's been wild to watch the reaction on Twitter!” he told VICE News via direct message. “Definitely beats taking the AP English test, which is how I spent my morning!”
Cover image: Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, speaks during a 'Green New Deal' rally in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, May 13, 2019. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images