Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign just landed the most high-profile endorsement of all: President Barack Obama.
With the end of the primary and the Democratic nominee clear, Mr. Obama has joined former President Bill Clinton and likely 2016 contender Hillary Clinton in backing Mr. de Blasio’s bid.
“Progressive change is the centerpiece of Bill de Blasio’s vision for New York City, and it’s why he will be a great mayor of America’s largest city,” Mr. Obama said in a statement this morning.
Mr. Obama went on to tout the specifics of Mr. de Blasio’s policy agenda.
“Whether it’s ensuring pre-kindergarten is available for every four-year old, expanding after-school programs for every middle school student who wants and needs them, making affordable housing available for more New York families and preserving community hospitals, Bill’s agenda for New York is marked by bold, courageous ideas that address the great challenges of our time,” Mr. Obama said.
In his own statement, Mr. de Blasio said he was “deeply honored” by the support.
“I am deeply honored by President Obama’s endorsement,” the city’s public advocate said. “If I am fortunate to earn the trust of the people of New York on November 5th, I will work every day to advance our shared value of making sure everyone has a fair shot. On health care, tax fairness or the economy, the President is no stranger to addressing big problems with big ideas and big solutions. I will emulate the example he has set, and if elected I stand eager to work with him on an urban agenda that grows prosperity for all.”
In 2009, Mr. Obama endorsed Democratic nominee Bill Thompson–but only at the last minute and indirectly, via his spokesman, who never actually mentioned Mr. Thompson by name. This time around, with Mr. de Blasio dominating in the polls, it’s a different story.
Mr. de Blasio faces Republican Joe Lhota in November’s general election, in addition to a slate of independent candidates.
“I fully expected the President would be supporting Bill de Blasio. That’s not a surprise at all,” Mr. Lhota said when asked about the endorsement this morning, side-stepping a question about whether he thought it would help or hurt Mr. de Blasio.
Update: (12:32 p.m.): With Mr. Lhota’s remarks. Additional reporting by Jill Colvin.