Mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio accused his Republican opponent of lodging increasing “cheap” and desperate attacks today after Joe Lhota accused him of calling NYPD officers “lazy.”
“My opponent keeps going further and further afield and distorting the truth more and more,” said Mr. de Blasio, talking to reporters after a Columbus Day parade in Brooklyn.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Lhota had blasted out a dramatic statement alleging Mr. de Blasio insulted the city’s police force during an appearance on actor Alec Baldwin’s new MSNBC show the night before.
In the interview, Mr. Baldwin specifically called the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy–not police officers–a “lazy” way of ensuring safety without also doing the hard work needed to protect constitutional rights. “It’s like, you know, these massive nets they go trawling for tuna with. And then they wind up catching all these other fish, and they say, ‘Tough, it’s collateral damage,'” Mr. Baldwin explained.
Mr. de Blasio concurred with Mr. Baldwin’s analysis, sparking Mr. Lhota’s furious reaction.
“Bill characterizing the NYPD as lazy is infuriating,” the Republican fumed. “On what planet is he living? We have victims of crime in this city every single day and he dares to call police who do their jobs lazy! Their proactive policing has saved countless lives by getting thousands of illegal guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. It’s simply unfathomable and a seriously disturbed view of public safety. He needs to apologize immediately.”
Mr. Lhota further accused Mr. de Blasio’s campaign of “viciously attacking Ray Kelly and the NYPD when he should be applauding them for making us the safest big city in America. This outrageous rhetoric combined with his policies that will prevent the police from doing their jobs are a recipe for disaster. He is not ready to be mayor and bear the responsibility of keeping 8.3 million New Yorkers safe.” (The campaign also hit Mr. Baldwin, describing him as “notorious for his violent rages and ultra-liberal positions.”)
But Mr. de Blasio, who is far ahead on the polls, dismissed the criticism as a severe mischaracterization.
“You look at the interview, we were talking about the difference between a policy–a policy that protects constitutional rights while keeping us safe–versus a policy that doesn’t protect constitutional rights and how the American experience–the American ideal–is based on doing something tougher than is done all around the world, of really protecting people’s individual liberties while keeping law and order,” he argued.
“I thought it was a very insightful, very historical analysis he was offering,” Mr. de Blasio added. “We have to strike this balance. So for my opponent to characterize it some other way, that’s just cheap and that’s just desperation.
Additional reporting by Colin Campbell.
Watch the MSNBC interview below: