First, Comptroller John Liu yelled, “Yes we can!” to the crowded Apollo Theater last week. Today, rival Bill de Blasio compared his own surging mayoral bid to President Barack Obama’s re-election effort–with his own celebrities in tow to make the case.
“You’ll remember the pundits in October 2012. Remember the message we heard over and over again? ‘Well, the Obama momentum has ended, you know, it’s almost about to be over, Romney’s moving, he’s surging,’” said Mr. de Blasio at a phone banking event in Park Slope.
“And the Obama campaign very quietly, conscientiously kept talking to voters and kept reaching out and kept having phone banks and kept identifying voters and on Election Day they won with the greatest re-election victory of any president in 30 years,” the public advocate added. “I didn’t see a lot of those pundits send apology notes.”
Cramming about 30 volunteers into the chic Southside Coffee shop on 6th Avenue near the Prospect Expressway, the de Blasio camp once again rolled out one of its many celebrity backers. This time it was Steve Buscemi, star of Boardwalk Empire and many Hollywood movies, who came to rally the young, left-leaning crowd. As volunteers gnawed on cookies and scones, they looked on a bit star-struck as Mr. Buscemi spoke briefly and posed for pictures.
According to one member of the campaign, the group could make as many as 3,000 phone calls in three hours.
Mr. Buscemi, a fellow Park Slope resident who has a long history with Mr. de Blasio, including getting arrested together in a local firehouse protest, told Politicker that Mr. de Blasio’s rise to the top in the latest polls did not surprise him at all.
“It doesn’t surprise me that when all the noise died down, when people started to pay attention and after they had seen what Bill stands for, that he had an uptick in the polls,” he said. “I’m just grateful that people are starting to pay attention.”
After briefly glad-handing, Mr. de Blasio was ushered outside by an anxious aide, where he posed for a few more photos and accidentally tripped on a reporter’s dog. The jovial Mr. de Blasio stumbled but did not fall, though, and it didn’t seem like much could wipe the front-runner grin off his face.
“Grassroots organizing has been a big part of my life and this is how you win campaigns,” said Mr. de Blasio, again referring to Mr. Obama’s 2012 victory. “A lot of our folks of course come from the Obama world … My campaign manager, the guy who makes our TV ads, I mean a lot of our key players grew up in that school.”