De Blasio Compares Latest Lhota Salvo to Infamous Willie Horton Ad

Joe Lhota's ad says Bill de Blasio would bring the city back to "this."
Joe Lhota’s ad says Bill de Blasio would bring the city back to “this.”

Bill de Blasio is upset with rival Joe Lhota’s latest ad.

The ad, released this morning, declared that if Mr. de Blasio wins the mayor’s race, the city will plunge back into an era where violence and riots ruled the streets. But Mr. de Blasio, who is far ahead in the polls, scoffed at the “desperate” move.

“I have seen Mr. Lhota’s ad. It is desperate. It is divisive. It is inappropriate,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters today while at a rally for workers in the fast food industry.

Mr. de Blasio then compared the commercial to the infamous “Willie Horton” ad run by George Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, which was panned at the time by many critics as race-baiting. Mr. Bush’s ad featured Mr. Horton, an African-American convict who committed more violence while out on a furlough, to argue his Democratic rival, Michael Dukakis, was soft on crime.

“I’m looking around at my colleagues, a lot of us went through the 1980s, the 1990s. We saw the way politics developed, sadly for the worst. This is just like the Willie Horton ad. It is divisive and negative,”  he continued.

Taking one last swing at his opponent, Mr. de Blasio said Mr. Lhota had proved himself irresponsible by the very act of authorizing the ad.

“The images are so far over the top that it’s unbelievable that anybody responsible would ever authorize such a thing,” Mr. de Blasio fumed. “I think the people of New York City are going to be angry and disgusted by this ad.”

Reached for a response, Mr. Lhota’s campaign spokeswoman, Jessica Proud, kept the focus on Mr. de Blasio’s “reckless” positions on public safety.

“Mr. de Blasio is lashing out because he knows New Yorkers don’t agree with his reckless and dangerous positions on crime. There is a tale of two cities in New York: the one where we had rampant crime and 2,000 murders per year and the one that has made us the safest big city in America. Mr. de Blasio’s policies will take us back to a New York we don’t want to ever see again,” she argued.

Referencing the recent West Side highway biker assault cited in the Lhota ad, Ms. Proud concluded: “He should redirect his outrage where it belongs–with the violent criminals who savagely beat a man in front of his family. ”

Updated (1:20 p.m.): With the response from the Lhota campaign.

De Blasio Compares Latest Lhota Salvo to Infamous Willie Horton Ad