On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to two October debates with Democratic challenger William Thompson, but it was clear the arguments would spill over into the following two months. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
With new fire in his campaign, Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a campaign party on Manhattan's West Side Tuesday to give the city a strong message. He said voters would either elect him on November 3 and continue progress or suffer the consequences.
"All of that could come to a screeching halt if we return to 'politics as usual.' Politics as usual, you know what I'm talking about, right?" said Bloomberg.
He was obliquely referring to a rival whose name he did not utter: City Comptroller William Thompson, the new Democratic nominee.
On two dates this fall, the pair will share a stage for what could be a dramatic couple of hours. It begins on October 13 on NY1, at East Harlem's Museo del Barrio, in a debate held in conjunction with the city Campaign Finance Board.
"He knows his record, he knows what he's done, he knows the issues. He'll be ready," said Bloomberg campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson
The mayor also agreed to debate Thompson two weeks later in another CFB debate. Yet so far he's demurred on a bigger challenge from the Democrat - a debate in each borough.
"I'm not afraid to tell New Yorkers about my vision for our city. Are you?" asked Thompson.
Bloomberg's campaign responded that challengers always ask for as many forums as possible.
The mayor has squared off with rivals, but left the podium empty at the Apollo Theater in 2005, in his race against Democrat Freddy Ferrer.
This year, his rival criticized the mayor for announcing his debate plans on Democratic primary day, in a bid to steal some thunder.
"They're very concerned about Bill Thompson," said Thompson campaign manager Eduardo Castell. "They know this is going to be a close race. We're looking forward to that."
Bloomberg's Tuesday party, which organizers said attracted 4,000 people, also seemed to try to dull Thompson's primary victory. Casting himself a working class champion, the billionaire mayor touted the diminished crime and better schools on his watch and arguing a vote against him would usher in a return to bad old political days.
"Failure, neglect, corruption, dysfunction, waste - and the middle class always gets stuck with the bill," said the mayor.
The vast resources of the Bloomberg political machine were everywhere, from the flowing wine and free food, to the microtargeted campaigning posters the mayor is paying for and that he hopes will pay off.