New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg kept his Democratic opponent on the defensive tonight during their final debate before Election Day. And the Democrat struggled to define himself. Bloomberg has outspent William Thompson Jr. $85.2 million to $6 million so far and remains comfortably ahead in the polls.With a week to go until the election, the debate was Thompson’s last big chance to land a major punch on Bloomberg. He also had to cast himself as a potential mayor rather than just a Bloomberg opponent.
But Thompson did not take advantage of several opportunities he had during the televised debate to advertise himself.
At one point, when asked for specifics on why he’d be a better mayor than Bloomberg, Thompson answered by saying Bloomberg has squeezed middle class New Yorkers out of the city.
A Quinnipiac University poll has Mayor Mike ahead by 18 percentage points, 53 to 35, and with the polls seemingly going his way, the mayor spent Monday laying out his vision of what he will accomplish in the next four years.
Thompson on Monday picked up the endorsement of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg ally who was pressured to support the Democrat in the race.
During the hour-long debate hosted by WABC, both candidates clashed over taxes and whether the mayor’s policies are pushing the middle class out of the city. For his part, the mayor accused Thompson of proposing spending that will require the city to raise taxes that he said would push jobs out of the city.
“I think that this city is going in the wrong direction. I think that if we look at, and I talked about the affordability gap before, middle class and working New Yorkers are being pushed out of the City of New York by the policies of this administration,” Thompson said.
“He said he wants a broad base tax. At one time he said a millionaire’s tax, he’s said so many things, I can’t keep straight who he wants to tax, but he’s going to tax somebody, Bloomberg said.
Both men also sparred over education, with the mayor saying Thompson failed students as head of the board of education.
Thompson defended his record and compared Bloomberg’s Department of Education to Enron.
Bloomberg also defended himself against charges that he is out of touch with the average New Yorkers.
“I started a small business. I know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, I know what it’s like to create jobs,” Bloomberg said. “To come here it’s not easy. You worry every night you go home, you worry whether you can make ends meet the next day.”
“Everybody realizes that the mayor is out of touch with the people that he represents,” Thompson said.