Mayor Bill de Blasio, his recent surge of travel beyond the borders of New York City coming under scrutiny, is defending his forays outside the city as he moves to influence the national political conversation, which he believes will, in turn, help those he represents back home.
His flurry of travel and interviews with national publications has elicited some grumbling back home, and some political observers feel that de Blasio is opening himself up to charges that he is ignoring the needs of his constituents who elected him not even 18 months ago.
The mayor on Monday pushed back against that belief.
“I’ve got to use the tools we have here to address income inequality and a host of other issues,” he said after an unrelated news conference in Queens, “but I also have to participate in changing the national debate and changing the reality in Washington in a way that will support the people of New York City. We’ve got to do both at once.”
De Blasio — who has made as many trips to the Midwest in 2015 as he has made official visits to the city’s borough of Staten Island — has insisted that his trips out of New York are an effort to change national politics to help those struggling at his city’s margins. Moreover, he stressed that some of his traveling — including a stop while in Washington to lobby for transportation funding — could lead to more federal money for New York.
The mayor, while making no secret of trying to become a loud national voice for liberal causes, stressed that he was not running for higher office. He also said it was commonplace to New York mayors to take up causes outside of their city.
“This is a bully pulpit to speak in many ways on the issues of urban America,” he said.