New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wants to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Republicans are making his wish come true.
De Blasio, a Democrat who vowed to use the campaign to raise the nation’s awareness of income inequality, has instead become the target of Republican candidates who call him a symbol of inept liberalism. His role in helping Hillary Clinton get elected to the U.S. Senate 15 years ago makes him an even more attractive whipping boy.
What began as a trickle of Republican criticism has intensified as the mayor’s approval ratings dropped to a lowest-ever 44 percent in an Aug. 5 poll. News reports have focused on his habitual lateness, an increase in homicides and more visible homelessness and panhandling -- by vagrants, costumed cartoon characters and topless women. The New York Post, a frequent critic of the mayor, ran a front-page photograph of public urination.
“Bill de Blasio represents all that is bad with Big Government run amok,” said Ford O’Connell, a strategist who advised John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “He’s someone all Republicans can focus on, from South Carolina to New Hampshire. Once you tie him to Hillary Clinton, it makes more sense.”