Mayor De Blasio On Possible Bloomberg Candidacy: U.S. Won't Turn To Billionaire To Fix The Nation's Problems

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Reverend Al Sharpton: Joining me now is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He’s in Iowa campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Mayor, thanks for being here.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: You’re welcome, Rev.

Reverend Sharpton: You waited a while before endorsing Clinton. What persuaded you?

Mayor: She put together a platform, Rev, that really speaks to the question of income inequality. It speaks to how we’re going to save the middle class in this country and support working people.

Look, this election, more and more, has been about economics and when you think of what’s happened over the course of the last year – more and more focus on the need to deal with the concentration of wealth and power in this country, more and more focus on the need to tax the wealthy in a progressive way, to raise wages, raise benefits, do things like paid sick leave, paid family leave – this is what this election is becoming and she has put together a platform that would be the most progressive going into the White House of any president in our memory. I think, for me, that’s what’s energizing and I think it’s energizing to people here in Iowa.

I’ve seen a real sense of urgency in the Clinton campaign here to folks on the ground. I’ve been out there knocking on doors, making phone calls – I see an urgency amongst her supporters to turn out this vote tomorrow night. But I think that urgency is derived by the situation in this country, by the fact that the middle class is stuck and people are frustrated and they need change now and for a lot of us we believe Hillary is the person who can best deliver that.

Reverend Sharpton: Vice President Biden said she came to the issue of income inequality late. You waited to see whether the platform that you are now [inaudible] would come into being. How important is it and how are you being received? How significant is it for a progressive New York City mayor to stump for her? Do you have impact, you feel, with Iowa caucus goers?
Mayor: Well, I think – I don’t have any assumption about what kind of impact I have. I’m out here to knock on doors, make phone calls, connect with people – some of them know the work I’ve done, some don’t but the most important thing is to have those people-to-people conversations about why we need progressive change, why we have to change what’s a very unfair economy, and why Hillary is the person who can get it done and get it done now. That’s my message and I think people are listening for that message – some know who I am, some don’t but the point is they want to talk about that because they feel the unfairness in this economy.

You know, the very same issues that Bernie Sanders has raised so eloquently, so powerfully, immediately beg the question, how are we going to get it done? If we’re – if we need to tax the wealthy or paid sick leave, paid family leave – these changes we need – higher minimum wage – how are we going to get it done?

And I think that’s where the discussion tips very favorably to Hillary because of a whole history of actually knowing how to get something done for a progressive cause. I was surprised at Biden, honestly, because I never questioned that she had a rich progressive tradition and I’m surprised that he didn’t remember what she did on health care reform in 1993 and 1994. I think this is the perfect lesson about who she is. Remember at that time, she was accused of being strident but she stuck with it against the health insurance companies through thick and thin.

Reverend Sharpton: Let me ask you quickly – I had breakfast this week with one of Michael Bloomberg’s top lieutenants. He preceded you. What do you think about him flirting with coming in and running Independent?

Mayor: I have a lot of respect for Michael Bloomberg and some of what he did as mayor was very good for New York City, some other things, as you and I know, he really missed the ball on but here’s the bottom line, the people of this country are not going turn to a billionaire to fix the problems created by billionaires. It’s just not going to happen. There’s such frustration – you can feel it here in Iowa, you can feel it all over the country – such frustration about the unfairness in our economy. They’re not going to turn to a guy who symbolizes the status quo to fix it.

Reverend Sharpton: Well, Mayor Bill de Blasio, thank you for being on the show this morning and stay warm out there.

Mayor: Thanks Rev, be well.


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