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Mayor de Blasio defends racial joke told with Hillary Clinton at Inner Circle dinner

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NEW YORK – Was it just in jest or a joke too off-color for an elected official to make?

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio defended Monday a racial joke he told during a skit with Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton at an event over the weekend, saying critics were "missing the point."

It was part of a parody sketch at Saturday’s Inner Circle, a political roast show that brings together New York journalists, political operatives and elected officials.

When teased by Clinton about how long it took him to endorse her for president, de Blasio said he was “running on CP Time” – also known as “colored people’s time” which invokes a stereotype about running late.

This year’s show was dubbed “Shamilton” and parodied the year’s biggest news – and political gaffes – in the framework of the musical “Hamilton.”

After de Blasio practiced rapping with Leslie Odom Jr., the "Hamilton" actor who plays Aaron Burr on Broadway, Clinton came out and set the stage for de Blasio’s joke.

"I came out blazing with heavy artillery, for the queen of Democrats, my home girl, Hillary," the mayor rapped as Clinton appeared.

"I heard my name," Clinton said. "I just have to say, thanks for the endorsement, Bill. It took you long enough."

"Sorry Hillary, I was running on CP time," de Blasio said
Odom responded, "That's not -- I don't like jokes like that, Bill."

"Cautious politician time," Clinton said. "I've been there."

The audience jeered then laughed, the responses de Blasio was apparently hoping for. He told CNN the point of the joke was to turn a negative stereotype on its head.

"It was clearly a staged show. It was a scripted show and the whole idea was to do the counter-intuitive and say, 'cautious politician time,'" de Blasio said Monday as criticism spread. “I think people are missing the point here.”

A spokesperson for de Blasio responded to the flap by noting the skit was satire and not meant to offend.

"Let's be clear, in an evening of satire, the only person this was meant to mock was the mayor himself," said the spokesperson said. "Certainly no one intended to offend anyone."

Bakari Sellers, a CNN contributor and Clinton supporter, said this controversy was "much ado about nothing."

"We are not worried about jokes that may not be funny," said Sellers, who is black. "This is not a big deal. It is a big deal that we have to remedy mass incarceration; it is a big deal that we have to remedy African-American wealth. That is what we have to focus on."

CNN contributed to this report.