It was Mark Green’s angriest day.
The polls showed that Michael Bloomberg, incredibly, had made a race of the 2001 Mayoral campaign after all, which meant that Mr. Green was perilously close to blowing what everybody had considered a sure-shot victory.
Only two months ago, Mr. Green seemed ready to swat away his three major Democratic rivals without breaking a sweat. Beating Mr. Bloomberg was supposed to be child’s play. Then it all started to fall apart. And on Nov. 5, the final full day of campaigning, Mr. Green let the weeks of tension and frustration show, unleashing a barrage of invective at every campaign stop, hoping to stop the bleeding.
Here is a stop-by-stop account of the assault:
9:10 a.m.: Emerging from the Staten Island ferry terminal in lower Manhattan, Mr. Green brandished a brochure featuring black-and-white pictures of Mr. Green and former Mayor David Dinkins stamped with the word “REJECTED.” “It shows the gross hypocrisy of the Bloomberg campaign,” said Mr. Green. “This from a Republican billionaire who invested in South Africa before the end of apartheid.”
9:35 a.m.: Standing on a sidewalk in Williamsburg with a collection of local Hispanic leaders, politicians and rabbis, Mr. Green introduced a new twist on his attacks. “For years, I worked to stop an incinerator from being built in Williamsburg. Where was Michael Bloomberg?” asked Mr. Green. “He was off legally making billions of dollars and rooting for the Red Sox!”
12:30 p.m.: Mr. Green’s bus–his staff dubbed the day’s events the “Mark Green Magical Victory Tour”–pulled into a desolate, windswept parking lot in Flushing, Queens. In one corner, a stage was set up with a microphone and a Mao Zedung–style oversized portrait of Mr. Green as a backdrop. Two dozen Chinese and Korean supporters of Mr. Green held signs and shivered. Mr. Green took the stage, accompanied by teachers’ union leader Randi Weingarten, Martin Luther King III and a handful of local leaders. “I don’t usually require a picture that’s that big of me,” Mr. Green said over a booming sound system that echoed in the empty lot. “When the campaign is over, please send it to my wife, so she can put it up in my living room.” Silence. Mr. Green tried a different tack, citing Mr. Bloomberg’s reported statement that he avoids going to Queens: “A man who says he doesn’t like coming to Queens doesn’t deserve the votes of people in Queens,” said Mr. Green. After a pause, the stalwarts in the parking lot applauded.
12:55 p.m.: The Green campaign released a chilling, last-minute television ad featuring an allegation that Michael Bloomberg once told a pregnant employee to “kill” the fetus. A sinister-sounding voice says, “Bloomberg bought her silence. Are you going to let Mike Bloomberg buy your vote?”
2:15 p.m.: In Forest Hills, Queens, surrounded by his A-team of Jewish supporters–Senators Joe Lieberman and Charles Schumer, Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver–Mr. Green talked about his kishkes, detailed his adherence to the principles of tikkun olam and bragged about how he had “jawboned down kosher-for-Passover prices for the first time in a generation.” Then he turned his attention back to a more familiar theme, reciting Mr. Bloomberg’s anti-Queens comments, calling him a “rich elitist” and likening him to a “rookie pitcher” being brought in for Game 7 of the World Series. Asked by a reporter if he shared Mr. Green’s apparently low opinion of Mr.Bloomberg, Senator Lieberman demurred.
3:30 p.m.: A rally at Bryant Park promised to be the most upbeat event of the day. A string of prominent Green supporters–including Bill Clinton and no fewer than three Kennedys (Bobby, Ted and Kerry Kennedy Cuomo)–gave rousing speeches praising Mr. Green. A crowd of several hundred union workers voiced its approval. Mr. Green hugged the former President, to massive cheers from the increasingly boisterous audience. Then Mr. Green spoke. “I worked for months, and not for weeks, to run a positive campaign,” Mr. Green began, “but then Michael Bloomberg started saying that I was a Stalinist, anti-police and a racist.” There was a pause. “I didn’t mind the Stalinist charge, although my Trotskyite friends were upset.” The crowd tittered uneasily. Mr. Clinton appeared to grimace. One campaign aide leaned over to another and muttered sarcastically, “That’s a great message.”
9:00 p.m.: The voice of West Side Representative Jerrold Nadler boomed from a microphone mounted on a flatbed truck parked on the corner of Broadway and West 82nd Street. “We have to get out the vote, especially on the West Side, because this is where we have to pile up the margins,” he yelled. Thirty-five volunteers huddled on the sidewalk gamely cheered and raised their Green signs. The microphone was passed around the truck to a number of Upper West Side Democratic luminaries, such as Assemblyman Scott Stringer and State Senator Eric Schneiderman. Suddenly, an older man in a jacket and cap emerged from his apartment building and approached the truck. “I’ve got kids, and they’re trying to sleep,” he yelled. The speeches continued as the disgruntled dad stared angrily. “You’re making too much noise,” he persisted. Veteran Manhattan Democrat Karen Burstein tried to soothe him. “I understand,” she said. “We’re almost done.” Just then, water came flying out of an upper-story window, soaking several unlucky young volunteers on the sidewalk. A younger, angrier-looking resident approached the truck. “Get them out of here!” he yelled to a nearby police officer. “They’ll be gone in 10 minutes,” said the cop, wearily. “Why 10 minutes?” the man asked. “They’re not moving,” insisted the cop. Mr. Green, now front and center on the truck, attempted to speak. “This is bullshit!” the man screamed. “All right, shut up already!” came a shout from the crowd of Green volunteers. “You shut up!” said the man. Then he pointed to Mr. Green. “And he shuts up!” He stormed off. Mr. Green stared after him a moment. “I’ll now keep it down,” he began, “because of that well-bred gentleman over there.” Then, quietly, he resumed the offensive: “For months, I’ve tried to run a positive campaign …. ”