New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an interview that one leading Democrat vying to replace him is running a "racist" campaign based on "class warfare."
Bloomberg made the comment about candidate Bill de Blasio in an interview with New York magazine due on newsstands Monday. It appeared on the magazine's website Saturday.
De Blasio is white, but he has been polling well among blacks since he began airing television ads featuring his interracial family. His wife is black and the couple has a son and a daughter. De Blasio has also criticized Bloomberg as not doing enough for the poor, saying New York has become "two cities," one for the rich and one for everyone else.
In asking Bloomberg about the mayor's race, the interviewer calls de Blasio's bid "in some ways ... a class-warfare campaign." Bloomberg interjects, "class-warfare and racist," according to the magazine.
Asked to explain what makes de Blasio's campaign racist, Bloomberg responded, "Well, no, no, I mean he's making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching what he's been doing. I do not think he himself is racist. It's comparable to me pointing out I'm Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote."
Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire, said he also found de Blasio's "two cities" rhetoric divisive.
New York's wealthiest residents, he said, contribute tremendously to the city and also deliver a huge amount of tax revenue that gives the city financial muscle that other municipalities lack.
"The way to help those who are less fortunate is, number one, to attract more very fortunate people. They are the ones that pay the bills. The people that would get very badly hurt here if you drive out the very wealthy are the people he professes to try to help," Bloomberg said. "He's a very populist, very left-wing guy, but this city is not two groups, and if to some extent it is, it's one group paying for services for the other."
Bloomberg also implied that poor New Yorkers have never had it better.
"By most of the world's standards, you ain't poor," said Bloomberg, noting that in some corners of the globe, people don't have access to things like air conditioning or own their own cars. "I'm not being cavalier about it, but most places in the world our poor are wealthy. There's a lot of tragedy around the world."
At a campaign event on Saturday, de Blasio called the remarks "very unfortunate."
"I hope he'll realize that it was inappropriate and I think the people of this city are ready for us to move forward again," de Blasio said. "We have run a campaign about the ideas, about the issues, about how to move this city forward."
Bloomberg said he favors Republican Joseph Lhota and Democrat Christine Quinn among the major candidates.