Republican Joe Lhota came out swinging in his second mayoral debate against Democrat Bill de Blasio Tuesday night. NY1 political reporter Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Joe Lhota is firing away. After a lackluster performance in the first debate, Lhota is trying to make up for lost time.
"I am sick and tired of you impugning the integrity of Rudy Giuliani," he told Democrat Bill de Blasio midway through Tuesday's debate. "Let me tell you, he was the man who started the renaissance in this city – who started the programs to make all New Yorkers safe."
Lhota was a deputy mayor under Giuliani. De Blasio has been calling Giuliani the most divisive mayor the city has ever seen.
The most intense exchange, though, came over Lhota's recent television ad, which says the city will go back to its crime-ridden days if de Blasio is elected mayor. De Blasio took his criticism of the ad further during this debate, calling it race baiting.
"It's race baiting and fear mongering, and you know it," he said to Lhota. "You know it."
"Stop, stop," Lhota responded. "There's nothing race baiting about it."
Lhota had little choice but to go after de Blasio more directly, as has just two weeks to try to close the massive gap with the front-runner. At one point he went after de Blasio by accusing him of not doing enough to get affordable housing built around the Barclay's Center, a project of developer Bruce Ratner's.
"It's been two years now since Barclay's Center has been open, and they are still not in the ground with affordable housing," he said. "You know why? De Blasio keeps taking contributions from Bruce Ratner. Bruce Ratner actually paid for his 50th birthday party. De Blasio makes promises over and over again that he just can't keep."
De Blasio also took his share of shots at Lhota.
"Can you explain why it is acceptable to seek Tea Party support when the Tea Party works against the interests of New Yorker City every single day?" he asked Lhota.
In a somewhat humorous moment, Lhota tried to explain what led him to call Mayor Bloomberg an idiot after Hurricane Sandy.
"I told the governor's director of operations, 'What an idiot,' he said of Bloomberg "He made a statement that was completely wrong."
As for his other infamous insult, Lhota says his biggest regret is saying that the Port Authority Police are nothing more than mall cops.