Bill de Blasio Admits Planned Iowa Presidential Forum Was a Failure

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Andrew Burton for Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Andrew Burton for Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio today confessed his much-mocked planned presidential candidates forum in Iowa was a failure—a day after his left-leaning nonprofit claimed it was called off because it had been such a success.

Talking to reporters today after marching in America’s Parade down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, the liberal Democratic mayor said what his Progressive Agenda Committee apparently could not: that the long-designed but never officially scheduled debate in the crucial caucus state would not happen because of a lack of responsiveness from contenders in both parties.

“It didn’t work, because we reached out to the candidates and they weren’t willing to participate,” he said.

The forum, which prompted travels to the Hawkeye State and to the nation’s capital, attracted skepticism and criticism, as many doubted the mayor could successfully attract Republicans to such a liberal event. The debate seemed even more dubious after Mr. de Blasio announced his endorsement of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But the mayor maintained he was undeterred in his intention to take his populist message to “every corner of this nation.” He insisted that such a broad approach was vital to securing federal funding for progressive programs in New York City, and asserted that only taxation upon the wealthy could reap the necessary monies.

“This is why I’m doing this work in Washington and around this country, and a lot of people feel the same way. We’ve got to change the debate, change the political reality, so we can get real changes in Washington that will benefit 8.5 million people here. And I’m going to keep doing that,” he said. “The forum was one of many ideas and many approaches.”

The somewhat crestfallen admission contrasts with Progressive Agenda Committee Executive Director Geri Prado’s claim that the forum had become superfluous since the group had already successfully moved income inequality to the center of the national conversation. But Mr. de Blasio also echoed Ms. Prado’s sentiments, asserting he had witnessed an “astounding” reorientation of his party in the past year to embrace progressive taxation and greater mandated wages and benefits for workers.

“If you look at the difference between 2014 and 2015, the difference between 2014 and 2015 is unbelievable. I’ve rarely seen so much movement in one year. This is the beginning of something much bigger, and I’m going to stick with it,” he concluded.

Bill de Blasio Admits Planned Iowa Presidential Forum Was a Failure