Republicans have a clearer message and connect with voters better than do Democrats and President Biden, New York City’s left-leaning, ex-mayor Bill de Blasio, said Friday.
De Blasio said the inability to dispel ideas with “simplicity” and “clarity” is a “Democratic problem” that he failed at as the Big Apple’s mayor and now he sees President Biden is struggling in the same way – which could prove deadly to the party’s success in the upcoming November elections.
“What pains me, Brian, is we never lacked contrast with the Republicans — especially in the age of Trump – and we never lacked subject matter. We lack simplicity and clarity,” de Blasio said in a return appearance to his former Friday at 10 AM slot on WNYC Public Radio with longtime host Brian Lehrer.
De Blasio went on to call it “a fixable problem … with a president who can communicate with empathy.”
He also critiqued Biden for failing to communicate to his base and the American public in general, using the comments the president made after the leak of the Roe v. Wade overturn decision.
“That next morning, Joe Biden was on the tarmac before leaving to another part of the country and reporters got up to speak to him. And what I wanted Joe Biden to do was be clear — he gave sort of a dissertation on the Supreme Court, on his efforts to stop Robert Bork decades ago, all sorts of things — but he never said this one simple sentence. The sentence I think, millions of Americans, particularly millions of American women needed to hear, which is, ‘I will fight like hell to protect a woman’s right to choose,’” de Blasio, who mounted a Quixotic bid against Biden in the democratic primary for president, said pointedly.
“That’s what he needed to say. I think that’s what he needs to repeat every chance he gets.”
The ex-mayor’s lament stems from a recent advice column he penned to Biden that was published in the Atlantic, where he warned the commander in chief not to repeat a major mistake he made – falling out of touch with the needs of everyday New Yorkers.
“The people are dealing with kitchen-table issues, really painful issues now. COVID and inflation and so much fear. Joe Biden needs to speak to them and come back to them and speak to them as it were, at their kitchen table in some ways, as FDR did famously with the fireside chats and focus much more on helping people understand where he’s taking us,” said de Blasio.
The ex-pol’s failures contributed to him being one of the city’s most unpopular politicians — even besting former Republican President Donald Trump in heavily Democratic New York.
“And I don’t think I did that well enough in the last years in particular, as mayor, and that’s why I want to write the piece to say I fell into this trap. I don’t think you have to Mr. President, I think there’s still time to turn that around.”
He said what’s missing from the Democrats’ approach is unity of message – pointing to the 2018 midterm elections when the party unified around healthcare and Bernie Sanders’ pro-labor message during his 2020 presidential campaign.
De Blasio admitted Democrats have “alienated progressives” particularly in the labor movement, seeking to restore credit to the party for coronavirus vaccination efforts, stimulus packages by the Biden administration and helping Ukraine defend its borders against Russia.
“Can Democrats do more to help organize labor? 100%. And we should. But I think this is not lack of achievement, I think we are not speaking to working people. And we’re not making clear that we’re on their side,” said de Blasio, who is unemployed, living in a hotel and amassing a mountain of debt.
The former two-term mayor, famous for his disdain of the press, then bizarrely offered social media advice and tips for engaging with the community – something he rarely did until the summer ahead of his exit from office.
“I would also say, just get away from the formal stodgy press conferences and you know, the addresses to the nation and be out in the communities of this country, empathizing with people and presenting them a vision because he is thoroughly believable.”
When asked whether he thinks Mayor Eric Adams is reversing his social justice, public safety policies that many have blamed for the huge spike in crime in the Big Apple, de Blasio laid off criticizing his successor.
“The first months of being mayor is so challenging, such is the reality” he said, praising Adams for being “a guy who has spent his whole life fighting for police reform.”
“I think that counts for a lot,” he added.
Adams, a former transit cop, campaigned on a pro-police platform and has brought back NYPD practices opposed by de Blasio – like the renewal of his uniformed, anti-gun unit.
De Blasio also shied away from hitting the Adams administration for bringing back the Gifted and Talented program in Gotham’s public school system, which he tried to phase out in the twilight of his tenure.
“I think there should be a broader revaluation of gifted and talented — what’s the plan we put forward? We struggled to find a plan that would work for a very different vision.”