De Blasio Says He’ll Be the ‘Token Non-Wealthy Person’ at Obama Fund-Raiser Tonight

Barack Obama and Bill de Blasio in Brooklyn earlier this year. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty)

Barack Obama and Bill de Blasio in Brooklyn earlier this year. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty)

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is set to deliver remarks this evening in front of a well-heeled crowd of donors at a fund-raiser with President Barack Obama, joked today he’ll be the odd one out.

“They needed a token non-wealthy person, so I was there. They called me in,” said Mr. de Blasio, speaking to reporters this afternoon at an unrelated press conference at City Hall.

Mr. de Blasio is expected to deliver remarks tonight at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fund-raiser at a private residence in the city, which the president is flying in to attend. But the new mayor, who has quickly become a rising national s star in the party, said he’ll be keeping his remarks simple.

“If I say anything, it’s only going to be informal,” he said, when asked whether he would use the opportunity to promote his signature plan to tax the city’s wealthiest residents to fund universal pre-K and after-school programs.

“It’s a gathering with President Obama, but from my point of view, one that’s very important to the future of New York City and New York State, ’cause it will have something to say with whether the U.S. Senate continues to be in the hands of the Democratic party,” he said. “And I think in terms of our two senators–Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand–they’re incredibly effective and they need to be in the majority to do all they can for New York City. So that’s why I’m going to that event.”

“If I’m speaking, it’ll simply be in support of that idea,” he added.

Mr. de Blasio won the election partially on the strength of his everyman image, which he has worked to maintain during the first months of his tenure. He is frequently photographed personally shoveling the snow outside his modest Park Slope row house after snowstorms, often stresses the fact that he is a public school parent, and has yet to move into the city’s official mayoral residence.

Mr. Obama will also be attending a Democratic National Committee event before he leaves town tonight.