In Second NYC Mayoral Debate, Lhota Turns Up the Heat

October 23, 2013

His mayoral ambitions slipping away, Joseph J. Lhota shed his sleepy style to unleash a ferocious attack against Bill de Blasio on Tuesday night in an acrid debate that descended into a free-for-all of interruptions, name-calling and indignant lecturing.

Mr. Lhota, a Republican, held nothing back, warning that Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, would “annihilate” charter schools, commit a “civil wrong” by raising taxes and take a “reckless” approach to policing. With a jab of his thumb, Mr. Lhota said that Mr. de Blasio’s policies “will push us back to where we were” in New York City’s grimier days of runaway crime.

Mr. de Blasio, despite his enormous lead in the polls, appeared frequently rattled by his opponent’s newfound fury, shaking his head, narrowing his eyes in pique and resorting, at times, to pleas for propriety. “I would ask Mr. Lhota to not use incendiary terms,” he said, stiffly, at one point.

In the evening’s most intense exchange, the candidates clashed over an advertisement by Mr. Lhota that used imagery from the 1991 Crown Heights riots to portray the Democrat as soft on crime. “It’s race baiting and it’s fear mongering and you know it,” Mr. de Blasio said, adding: “Anybody who looks at that ad knows what he is up to.”

Mr. Lhota shot back. “Don’t tell me I threw out the race card,” he said. “Bill, you cannot stoop to that level.”

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