The issue of crime and public safety dominated the conversation in the mayor's race this week as the two candidates prepare to square off in their second debate this Tuesday. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
It began with a TV ad from Republican candidate Joe Lhota; images from an earlier era in New York City before a precipitous drop in crime began in the 1990s. Critics seized on the ad, calling it divisive.
"When I see these commercials talking about going back to the 70s and all of this with racial overtones. We do not need these Willie Horton ads," said Reverend Al Sharpton.
Lhota made no apologies about the message of the ad.
"The important message is Bill de Blasio, I believe, would be dangerous and take us backwards regarding public safety," Lhota said on Friday.
"If we want to have a serious conversation about public safety, let's talk about the details of how we are going to stay safe. Let's not get into these ridiculous stereotypes," De Blasio told reporters Friday.
On Tuesday, the candidates held their first televised debate. Critics say Lhota, who is way behind in the polls, failed to make a compelling case about why he is running.
"I don't think Joe Lhota has really talked about who he is, what his vision is other than not going back to the 70s. And most voters don't remember the 70s, or they were small children or they weren't even here in New York," said Michael Benjamin, a former Democratic state Assemblyman.
Observers say there are several reasons Lhota has failed to gain traction including the national Republican party's recent government shutdown in Washington, which may be having residual effects locally for a Republican candidate.
But others say Lhota had difficulty making his case.
"He is not a practiced politician. He hasn't really been in public office. He hasn't been out there trying to win votes. It's something that comes more naturally to people who run for office," Benjamin added.
The two candidates will square off this coming Tuesday in their second debate, that will be followed by the third and final debate the week after.