The underdog was biting, but whether his bark was loud enough to make a difference is yet to be seen. Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota had to come off strong in the second of three scheduled debates, and he did, constantly taking jabs at Democratic frontrunner Bill De Blasio. Both raised their voices and frequently talked over one another.
Sparks began to fly at the outset when De Blasio criticized Lhota for his apocalyptic ad showing scenes of crime-ridden streets and suggesting that his opponent would be soft on crime. “Mr. Lhota should be ashamed of that ad,” declared De Blasio, adding, “It is divisive.We need a Mayor who can bring us together.” Lhota countered by arguing that there is nothing divisive about the ad and called DeBlasio “a partisan and all he wants to do is attack, attack.”
Lhota went ballistic after De Blasio failed to say whether he had a plan B if his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund school programs didn’t pass muster in Albany, something Governor Cuomo indicated would not happen. De Blasio refuted, saying, “The Governor said he would keep an open mind.” The candidate kept talking without suggesting an alternative plan to raise the money. Lhota insisted, “De Blasio doesn’t have a Plan B. He makes promises he can’t keep. His plan is dead on arrival in Albany.”
Things got really heated when Lhota claimed De Blasio couldn’t be trusted on taxes, voicing skepticism that he’ll only increase taxes on the rich. “Let me tell you,” Lhota shot, “Middle class hold on to your wallet.” De Blasio countered by saying Lhota would rush to give tax cuts to the rich.
As he did in the first debate, De Blasio tried repeatedly to tie Lhota to the Tea Party because he sought their support in Staten Island. Lhota made it clear he found their role in shutting down the government repugnant. He turned to De Blasio and shouted, “You talk so much about tea, you sound like the Mad Hatter.”
De Blasio accused Lhota of race-baiting and of fear mongering. Lhota said the city would be much safer if he is Mayor.
There were moments both were in agreement on issues, including development of the Sea Port City on the East River and the end of horse carriage rides in the city.
Both candidates meet for their final debate next Tuesday.