NEW YORK - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the Democratic front-runner to succeed him as mayor is waging a "class warfare and racist" campaign, according to an interview published on New York Magazine's website on Saturday.
Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate who has built his campaign around rising economic inequality, has been surging in public polls, overtaking the race's longtime front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Bloomberg ally.
"Tearing people apart with this 'two cities' thing doesn't make any sense to me," Bloomberg is quoted as saying. Asked if he has been running a class warfare campaign, Bloomberg replied, "class warfare and racist."
In the magazine interview, Bloomberg reserved his strongest words for de Blasio, who is white, taking issue in particular with the visible role played by the candidate's wife, who is black, and their two children.
De Blasio's son, Dante, who is biracial and wears his hair in a tall Afro, starred in a campaign ad that promoted de Blasio's opposition to the controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactic that overwhelmingly targets young black and Latino men.
"I mean he's making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching what he's been doing," Bloomberg told the magazine. "I do not think he himself is racist. It's comparable to me pointing out I'm Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote. You tailor messages to your audiences and address issues you think your audience cares about."