WASHINGTON — Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio went down to Washington, D.C. today to meet with President Barack Obama, emerging emboldened that a “progressive movement” was sweeping the nation.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, which included 15 other newly-elected mayors, Mr. de Blasio said it was clear to him that the fight against inequality–which formed the centerpiece of his campaign–was gaining steam far beyond the five boroughs.
“You can’t have a room full of mayors–literally every corner of the country–all spontaneously saying to the president of the United States the same exact things from their own experience: Something’s going on here … So what we have to do is organize it and amplify it,” he told Politicker.
“It was very interesting: a lot of them talked about pre-K, a lot of them talked about early childhood education as one of the breakthrough things we have to do to change the dynamics, a lot of them talked about their growing poverty levels and how it was undermining the future of their cities. So I think there was a really organic unity among all of us of the fact that this is the issue of our times. Fighting inequality is the mission of our times,” he said.
The meeting, organized by the White House, had been called “discuss the ways in which the Obama Administration can serve as an active partner on job creation and ensuring middle class families have a pathway to opportunity.” Speaking in the Roosevelt Room, Mr. Obama said he hoped to partner with the city leaders to help them achieve their goals.
“[M]y hope and goal out of this meeting is we immediate set up a strong partnership with all of the mayors that are here and all of the mayors that are not here where we get a clear sense of what their vision is of how they are trying to deliver services,” he said, according to a pool report.
Mr. de Blasio reportedly sat front and center in the room, directly across from the president as he discussed the recent budget deal, the importance of extending unemployment insurance and the potential benefits of raising the minimum wage.
Later, Mr. de Blasio said that he hoped he and his fellow mayors would be able to come together to help push early education advances, just as current Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with other city heads to advance issues including immigration reform, climate change and gun control–“but with a different approach.”
“What I think we have to do is something that reaches down more to the grassroots … a real effort to reach Americans in each and every part of this country to say this is a national imperative” he said. “I don’t have the game plan today, I can just tell you the vision to me is to take that same kind of approach that Mayor Bloomberg used I think meaningfully and add to it.”