In case there were any doubts, Bill de Blasio has no interest in letting his Republican rival, Joe Lhota, distance himself from the right-wing of his party.
In a blistering broadside at an unrelated Brooklyn press conference today, Mr. de Blasio told Politicker that Mr. Lhota has to embrace everyone from Mitt Romney to Barry Goldwater, whom Mr. Lhota professed an affinity for in college.
“First of all, it’s 2013 and the Republican Party has evolved, thanks to Mr. Lhota’s friend Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and others over the last two decades, it’s evolved into a very right-wing party nationally and in many ways in this state,” Mr. de Blasio said when asked about his efforts to link Mr. Lhota, a self-professed social liberal, to the Tea Party. “So you can’t be a Republican bystander. You can’t say, you know, ‘Oh I’m an innocent liberal Republican and all those other things happened. Too bad.'”
“If you’re a member of the Republican Party you’re buying into the whole idea and it has not been pretty to watch what the Republican Party has done to this country and what it is doing this very day through the Tea Party members of Congress who have literally shut down our government against the will of the people,” Mr. de Blasio continued.
“So I think, you know, you break it, you own it. If he chooses to be an ideological Republican and he does not deny he’s an ideological Republican, then he has to account for the whole package,” he said.
Mr. de Blasio then moved to compare Mr. Lhota to failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who had positioned himself as a moderate.
“I would remind you,” Mr. de Blasio said, “that a lot of people tried to suggest that Mitt Romney was a different kind of Republican. And yet, when the time came, he made very clear how much he wanted the conservative Republican and bent over backwards to achieve that support. I think Mr. Lhota did a similar thing when he met with the Tea Party in Staten Island a few months ago.”
“I’m very proud to be a Democrat and I think there’s a stark contrast right there,” the public advocate confidently concluded.
Mr. Lhota has sought to separate himself from national Republicans in recent days, especially in the wake of the Washington shutdown. But Mr. de Blasio’s camp has continued to double down on the message, sending out a release today entitled, “Which Republican Said It? Joe Lhota, George W. Bush, Or Mitt Romney?”
Update: (8:00 P.M.): The Lhota campaign labeled Mr. de Blasio “the extremist.”
“The only extremist in this race is Bill de Blasio,” said Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “He opposes successful charter schools for children, wants to prevent the police from doing their jobs and will drive jobs out of the city with his reckless spending. His agenda is wrong for New York and the voters will see through his ridiculous attacks.”