Mayor Michael Bloomberg had an efficient campaign outing this afternoon, receiving the endorsement of Newark Democratic mayor Cory Booker and then visiting with firefighters at a blaze that broke out down the block from his press conference.
Standing before red, green and black “African Americans for Bloomberg” signs in front of a public school on 140th Street, Booker called Bloomberg a “wise elder” and “leader in mayors.” The change Bloomberg had brought to New York, Booker said, was “self evident” and thus the candidate running on the Republican line, “deserves another term.”
Bloomberg, who nodded throughout Booker’s lengthy and effusive remarks, offered Booker a strong pound and an “I Love You Man” hug, and then affected modesty at a podium brandishing a blue “Mike Bloomberg NYC” sign.
Bloomberg said he was humbled to hear “all those words” and to listen to someone “tell it the way they see it.”
“It just gives you the impetus to go out and work harder,” he said.
(Bloomberg’s tone was markedly different from the one he took at a recent press conference when he scolded a reporter for failing to turn off a noisy tape recorder which the reporter, who is handicapped, couldn’t reach. After today’s presser, Stu Loeser, the mayor’s spokesman, said Bloomberg had personally apologized to the reporter in question, but had also argued that he “tries to treat everyone the same.”)
In his remarks today, Bloomberg sought to draw comparisons between himself and Booker, who is often mentioned in discussions about the future of the Democratic Party. He emphasized how he and Booker and President Obama’s education secretary Arne Duncan all shared a similar vision for city school reform compared to “some people” who “want to go back to the bad old days.” As Bloomberg took a few more shots at his likely Democratic rival, Bill Thompson, who went unnamed, a fire broke out east across Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Thick gray smoke rose above the low slung buildings as Bloomberg’s security detail joined firefighters arriving to the scene, hoisting a ladder bearing the sign “Harlem Hilton” against one of the facades. Bloomberg attempted to ignore the distraction (though he did, at one point, refer to Booker as “Tory”) and the two mayors took questions from reporters.
One reporter told the mayor that Bill Perkins, a Democratic state senator supporting Bill Thompson, had said earlier in the day that Booker, who is black, did not represent black voters in New York.
“He’s not the only African American in this city,” Bloomberg answered, referring to Perkins. On Election Day, he said, “We’re going to see if Cory Booker’s endorsement means something.” Bloomberg said he expected it would. The gaggle broke up but Booker asked to repeat his endorsement in Spanish, concluding that of Bloomberg, the city “necesitas otra terma.” Bloomberg then adjoined his own halting Spanish remarks before chatting with local reverends in front of the school as Loeser told reporters that Bloomberg would soon check out the scene of the fire.
Bloomberg started walking over to his car when a reporter from Fox News energetically and repeatedly asked the mayor why he had treated the handicapped reporter so poorly at the press conference earlier in the week. The reporter, wielding a Fox News microphone and followed by his cameraman, swarmed the mayor as if he were Bernard Madoff just let out of court. The other reporters looked on and smiled, as did the mayor, who weaved as his security officers physically stepped in and shielded him from the reporter, who screamed he was being harassed.
At the scene of the fire, which was now extinguished, firefighters brought hampers of clothes out of a charred laundromat on the corner of 140th and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. Bloomberg, after consulting with the firemen, posed for pictures with residents, some of whom handed their camera phones to Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, who happily obliged. Bloomberg’s campaign videographer had stayed back up the block to shoot some footage of Booker saying more positive things about the mayor.