De Blasio, at Last, Makes it Official: He’s for Clinton

NEW YORK (AP) -

In a low key announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio finally announced Friday that he is backing Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, a much-discussed endorsement that had prompted some criticism from fellow Democrats for being so long in coming.

De Blasio said Clinton was the candidate best suited to navigate Washington and actually enact liberal policies to combat income inequality.

“The candidate who I believe can fundamentally address income inequality effectively, the candidate who has the right vision and the right experience to get the job done, is Hillary Clinton,” the mayor said during an early morning appearance on MSNBC.

The delay had long puzzled some political observers and frustrated some within the Democratic Party, including a few inside City Hall.

The first-term mayor has long-standing ties to the Clintons. He worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton and was then plucked from political obscurity to run Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign.

He remained close to the couple, who appeared on stage with him at his January 2014 inauguration. President Clinton administered his oath of office.

But de Blasio said the morning of Clinton’s campaign announcement in April that he would not automatically be backing the former secretary of state until she unveils “the substance.”

He stuck to that script in the coming months even as criticism mounted within the party. The mayor also moved toward making himself a national figure on liberal issues. But polls reflected that many New Yorkers felt that de Blasio was prioritizing the national over the municipal, and many of his advisers urged him to simply take the plunge and endorse Clinton.

On Friday, he finally did, choosing the day politicians traditionally use to dump less than flattering news and a week in which the city is distracted by the Superstorm Sandy anniversary and the World Series. He offered a spirited defense of his former boss.

“There’s a lot of spine there and a lot of steel there,” said de Blasio. “She has said what she believes in. This is a very sharp, progressive platform, and she has the ability to follow through on it.”

Clinton’s campaign did not respond to the endorsement. Instead, they sent out an email touting the new support of 87 mayors across the nation.

De Blasio, mayor of the nation’s largest city, was listed fourth.