Lhota blasts de Blasio's "socialist" label, Obama endorses de Blasio


New York, NEW YORK — Mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota (R) attacked opponent Bill de Blasio (D) on the basis of his past referral to himself as a “democratic socialist,” reported CBS New York. President Obama endorsed de Blasio Sept. 22, the same day Lhota voiced his concern about his opponent's label. In the late 1980s, de Blasio worked at the Quixote Center, one of the American organizations sympathetic to the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua, according to the New York Times.  He attended anti-U.S. foreign policy protests and helped coordinate aid and raise funds for the revolutionaries.

In the early ‘90s de Blasio joined the Nicaragua Solidarity Network, another activist group that sought to continue raising awareness in the United States for the Sandinistas.  He worked with them until he became an aide to then-NYC Mayor David Dinkins in 1992.

The New York Times said that although the Sandinista movement was supported by both the Soviet Union and Cuba, the Reagan administration considered it “tyrannical and Communist.”

Bill de Blasio shakes hands with Katherine Lewis at a 1988 news conference put on by the Quixote Center. Marquette University Archives/The New York Times.

Lohta used the article as an opportunity to attack de Blasio, saying that what he did was “not the right thing to do during the Cold War” because the Sandinistas “were fighting Americans as well as capitalism,” reported CBS New York.

The New York Times reported that in a recent interview, “Mr. de Blasio said his views then — and now — represented a mix of admiration for European social democratic movements, Mr. Roosevelt’s New Deal and liberation theology.” While still an “admirer” of the Sandinistas, de Blasio acknowledged he disagrees with their totalitarian characteristics.

On the same day The New York Times published the article, President Obama publicly endorsed de Blasio in a statement: “Progressive change is the centerpiece of Bill de Blasio’s vision for New York City, and it’s why he will be a great mayor of America’s largest city."

In his subsequent address to the press, de Blasio emphasized his goal of “compassionate” and “activist government” that combats “inequality” and “unfairness."  He said these problems existed in 1992 as much as in his current mayoral campaign, alluding to his “tale of two cities” point on the economic divide in NYC, as described by New York Daily News.

De Blasio said he is “not surprised” at Lhota’s criticisms and that name-calling is a “Republican” and “right-wing tactic” that “we’ve all seen plenty of times.”

Some students at The King’s College, including Joseph Holmes (’15), hope that voters will decide to express their disagreement with de Blasio’s history.

Holmes sees this as a case of the way we view “’acceptable’ sins” in politics, such as Winston Churchill’s attitude toward Indian independence while he also had a hand in Hitler’s defeat.

“De Blasio probably doesn't actually approve of totalitarian communism, but [thinks] that government-induced social and economic equality is a good thing that balances out and softens such regimes," Holmes said. "The voters have to decide if they agree with him on that. Personally, I hope they don't."