McCray Dismisses Quinn’s ‘Silly’ Interpretation of ‘Children’ Comment

Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray

Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray

Chirlane McCray’s not backing down either.

Ms. McCray, the wife of mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, last night defended controversial–and incorrectly quoted–comment she made about de Blasio rival Christine Quinn in an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Ms. Quinn, who is openly gay, slammed the remark  as a personal attack on her for being childless.

“I think it’s very clear. It was not personal and I was speaking from my heart about all the woman and families who are denied … the woman and their families who need pre-K, who need paid sick leave,” Ms. McCray told reporters after a heated debate at the Town Hall theater in Midtown. “You know we have 50,000 children who can’t get a seat in pre-K and Speaker Quinn is in opposition to that.”

Originally, the column had quoted Ms. McCray describing Ms Quinn as “not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.” The Times later admitted Ms. McCray had been misquoted, and that the remarks were much more policy-oriented. Ms. Quinn nevertheless insisted the correction did not change the substance of the offense.

Ms. McCray told reporters she recognized the first version of her comments could be interpreted negatively, but seemed largely unconvinced by the claim.

“In the first rendition, yes, a little. But you know, given who I am, and my history, it was kind of silly,” said Ms. McCray, who, as Politicker reported last year, identified as a lesbian before marrying her husband.

Ms. Quinn has described the comments as deeply hurtful and spoke emotionally yesterday–first on the steps of City Hall and then during the debate–about how saddened she’d been by what she interpreted as Ms. McCray suggesting that she couldn’t relate to families because she doesn’t have children of her own.

“Well, I certainly don’t want to be hurtful,” said Ms. McCray when asked about Ms. Quinn’s reaction. “But again, I really feel like my statement was pretty clear …. I don’t think anyone who reads it or listens to it could misinterpret it in that way.”

Mr. de Blasio also came to his wife’s defense.

“Bottom line is we respect every kind of people in this city, we respect every kind of family,” he said, breaking into the conversation. “I know that this was a statement that was totally substantive and there was no intention to hurt.”