Bill de Blasio Is ‘Not Yet’ Willing to Back Hillary Clinton for President

Mayor Bill de Blasio on "Meet the Press" this morning.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on “Meet the Press” this morning.

How ready for Hillary is Bill de Blasio?

The liberal Democratic mayor, who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 bid for the U.S. Senate, is still not ready to endorse the former secretary of state’s campaign for president, set to launch later today. In an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press this morning, Mr. de Blasio repeatedly refused to say he would be supporting Ms. Clinton.

“Like a lot of people in these country, I want to see a vision and that would be true of candidates on all levels. It’s time to see a clear bold vision for progressive economic change,” Mr. de Blasio said.

“You’re technically not yet endorsing her?” Mr. Todd asked.

“No, not until I see, again I would say this about any candidate, until I see an actual vision of where she wants to go,” Mr. de Blasio continued. “I think she’s a tremendous public servant. I think she’s one of the most qualified people to ever run for this office and, by the way, thoroughly vetted, we can say that. But we need to see the substance.”

Mr. Todd then asked if Mr. de Blasio wanted to see Ms. Clinton have a “tough” primary challenge.

“I think again what’s happening now almost synthesizes some of the reality of the primary. Clearly what’s happening in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is a demand for our candidates to come forward with a vision,” he said. “That’s creating some of the same positive pressure you see in the primary process.”

Previously, Mr. de Blasio had declined to endorse Ms. Clinton on the grounds that she was not yet a candidate for president. Now, with Ms. Clinton’s campaign about to launch, the progressive mayor appears to be waiting to see if the former New York senator will embrace his populist approach. Some progressive activists are wary of Ms. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, because they have adhered to more centrist brand of politics in the past.

Mr. de Blasio’s refusal to back Ms. Clinton is also striking in the context of what other New York City Democrats are doing. A “Ready for Hillary” event yesterday drew many elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Mr. de Blasio invited both Clintons to his 2014 inauguration, but has since strove to make himself a national leader on progressives issues–and someone with a bully pulpit who can push Ms. Clinton to the left, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Still, it’s unlikely Mr. de Blasio will end up backing someone other than Ms. Clinton. There are few viable Democratic alternatives and none with her substantial New York ties. (He did have kind words last week for one of her potential challengers, Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders.)

“I think she has to address the issues and that can be done with or without a primary,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Bill de Blasio Is ‘Not Yet’ Willing to Back Hillary Clinton for President