Bill de Blasio signals he will stay in presidential race even if he fails to qualify for next debate

De Blasio downplayed the importance of the debates, arguing they have had little impact on the race as a whole

By Shira Tarlo

Published August 13, 2019 11:18AM (EDT)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty/Drew Angerer)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty/Drew Angerer)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is considering staying in the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2020 — even if he fails to qualify for the party's third debate next month.

"Oh yeah, I would absolutely say that," de Blasio told NY1 when asked if he might stay in the race, regardless of whether he makes it onto the stage. "I'm going to look at all the pieces and look — again, six months until anyone votes."

The mayor, who has barely cracked 1 percent in most polls of the presidential race, argued that the debates have had little impact on the state of the race.

"When you really get out of the first days after the debates, the big strokes in this election so far — six months, seven months — have not been based on the debate performances," he said. "That's why I'm not going to overrate it. I'm going to make my decision about what I'm going to do based on the whole picture."

De Blasio stressed that while debates are a "fantastic opportunity to speak to 20 million or more people," they make up "only one part of the equation."

"They're also a flawed dynamic by definition," he added. "At this point, we've had 10 people on a stage in a format that only allows so much give in take. There's a lot of other things you do to reach people."

De Blasio's campaign appeared to hold a different view of the debates after the mayor's much-lauded performance in the first match-up in June.

"The campaign saw a major increase in momentum following Mayor de Blasio's impressive showing in the first Democratic primary debate. In just four days, de Blasio 2020 raised more than $630,000, capitalizing off a performance where Chris Matthews called Mayor de Blasio a 'surprise heavyweight' and the Washington Post labeled him a 'winner' of the first night of debates," the campaign wrote in a press release last month.

De Blasio qualified for the second debate, which featured 20 contenders, but the Democratic National Committee raised the bar for the third debate. To make it onto the presidential debate stage, candidates must now have 130,000 individual donors and hit at least 2 percent in four different qualifying polls. As of his most recent campaign filing on July 15, de Blasio had roughly 6,700 unique donors. He has not yet met the polling requirement.

De Blasio's interview with NY1 came just a day after the mayor's weekend trip to Iowa, where he attended the state's famous fair and a candidate forum on gun control hosted by his predecessor, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor also hosted his own events, one of which drew a crowd of no more than 20 in Cedar Rapids.

De Blasio, a largely unpopular figure in both local and national politics, boasted about his weekend campaign in Iowa, nevertheless.

"What I'm hearing from Iowa Democrats is they're keeping their powder dry, because they know it's six months 'til they vote. It's six months 'til anyone votes," de Blasio said. "One of the things that people come up to you in Iowa — it happened to me all weekend — and say [is] 'You’re on my list.'  . . . You're among the people that they're seriously considering."

De Blasio, however, registered at 0 percent in the Iowa State Fair's unscientific "Cast Your Kernel" poll, which allows fairgoers over the age of 18 to drop a kernel of corn into a jar to select their top caucus choice. The mayor's current polling average is 0.3 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.

Shira Tarlo

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