Andrew Yang was on Eric Adams’ turf Thursday to condemn a practice the Brooklyn borough president has long been accused of tolerating.
“Parking placard abuse! We have to do better!” Yang said in opening his remarks.
But even as he took the fight to a rival in the race for mayor, Yang repeatedly found himself on the defensive.
The tech entrepreneur was forced to explain a video clip in which a comedian asks a crude question about his sexual preferences.
“He choke b---h, Andrew Yang? He choke b---h?” Lawrence Reese is heard asking the candidate in a video posted to social media as Yang turns away laughing.
Yang was asked Thursday why he is seen laughing.
“You’re trying to be friendly to someone and then you’re shocked and surprised that all of a sudden, it goes in that direction," he said. "So I reacted to end the interaction as quickly as possible.”
He stressed that he believes the remark to be "plainly inappropriate."
But opponents in the Democratic primary pounced.
Women supporters of City Comptroller Scott Stringer, including State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, said in a statement: “Language like this perpetuates real violence against women. And laughing at it is the latest in a long list of troubling evidence about Yang's character that follows countless reports of toxic masculinity, misogyny, and bro-culture.”
Former MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley called a press conference with surrogates and survivors of sexual violence to condemn him.
She also told NY1 earlier, “It is not funny, we do not laugh, and we do not turn out backs and walk away. That simply enables and reinforces abusive behavior and we need a mayor that’s going to stand up and say, No. Heck no.”
Yang additionally fended off an attack by Adams campaign, which blasted him for focusing on double-parking when some communities are plagued with violent crime.
“Maybe parking is the big crime problem in New Paltz, but not in New York,” Adams spokeswoman Madia Coleman said, referencing Yang’s upstate residence.
Yang responded, though not with a personal attack.
“I think about what’s happening to families in New York all the time, particularly the victims of violent crimes, which unfortunately have risen in this city," he said, adding, “I think New Yorkers sense that we have the capacity to do multiple things as once.”
There’s been limited polling thus far in the mayoral race, but at this stage, Yang and Adams are the frontrunners.