Mayor Bill de Blasio defended Hillary Clinton’s claims in Saturday night’s debate that her donations from large financial institutions do not compromise her independence and that they are a result of her representing New York as a senator in the days following 9/11.
Speaking after an unrelated in Queens, Mr. de Blasio stood up for the Democratic front-runner, who he endorsed in October after demurring for months. In response to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders questioning why large Wall Street firms have contributed to the former secretary of state’s campaign, Ms. Clinton accused him of making “an attack on my integrity” and then mentioned that the World Trade Center attacks impacted lower Manhattan—arguments the mayor backed up today.
“It’s clear that she had real relationships with people on Wall Street and she did spend a lot of time—I certainly saw it with my own eyes—she did spend a lot of time with people in lower Manhattan, including the financial community, after 9/11 working together,” Mr. de Blasio, who managed Ms. Clinton’s first Senate campaign, told the Observer. “So certainly personal relationships developed. But I don’t think that changed her position one iota.”
During the debate, Ms. Clinton highlighted that she received many contributions from women, and that her Wall Street connections sent a message to al Qaeda. Many pundits mocked Ms. Clinton’s suggestion that there was a link between 9/11 and her reliance on Wall Street for campaign contributions.
“Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is,” she said. “I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”
Mr. de Blasio, who has made closing the class divide the central plank of his political platform, asserted Ms. Clinton has demonstrated a “strong, progressive agenda”: through her support of the Dodd-Frank regulations passed in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, her calls for containing executive compensation, her declared opposition to the “shadow banking” system that provides financial services outside of the regulatory system and her support for including investment bankers’ interest gains in the income tax.
“Whoever you are taking donations from, you can’t let it influence your thinking. And I think she understands that fully,” he said, arguing that many in the financial industry oppose her proposals. “I can certainly say there’s a lot of folks on Wall Street that don’t agree with her platform and her agenda, but she has stuck to it.”
“I think there are plenty of powerful folks on Wall Street who fundamentally hope that what she’s trying to achieve won’t happen. So I think she has clearly maintained the independence of her positions,” he added.