NEW YORK — Bill de Blasio found a way to stand out.
The 23rd candidate to enter the Democratic presidential field found a slice of the limelight by botching his carefully planned announcement rollout.
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First a high schooler in Missouri scooped de Blasio by tweeting that the New York City mayor would visit the Truman Club in Sioux City, Iowa, for the first stop on his “Presidential announcement tour,” with the club initially misspelling the mayor’s name. Then protesters appeared outside the windows as de Blasio was on nationally watched “Good Morning America” this morning for his first campaign appearance.
His announcement video quickly drew a mocking tweet from his would-be opponent President Donald Trump. The announcement came just days after de Blasio faced protesters so loud that they drowned him out when he tried to make an climate announcement at Trump Tower. All this was only after he equivocated for weeks about whether he should run as the 2020 field grew increasingly crowded.
The two-term mayor likes to point to his decisive margins of victory in the biggest U.S. city, but the perception that he is a bungler in chief was only reinforced by his rollout, which continues Friday and Saturday with travel to Iowa and South Carolina, two key early voting states.
“I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet, but he’s not competing against other ragtag campaigns,” communications consultant Eric Soufer, a managing director of Tusk Strategies, said in an email. “He’s competing against seriously staffed, deeply funded, totally professionalized operations. Those campaigns have dozens of staffers obsessed with making sure everything looks perfect for their candidate everyday. He has maybe one or two — and they’re already working overtime just to get this thing off the ground. It’s unrealistic to expect anything more from them, but the press and the voters won’t care.“
De Blasio opted to enter the race against the advice of some of his friends and advisers, one of whom called the idea “f—ing insane“ in an interview with POLITICO in March.
The people of New York City — who elected de Blasio to a second mayoral term in 2017 — are especially reticent about him running for president. In a Quinnipiac University poll released in April, only 18 percent of the city’s voters said he should run for president with 76 percent saying he should not. The respondents were uniform across political parties, gender, race age and which borough they live in, Quinnipiac said.
De Blasio has long harbored loftier ambitions than New York City Hall. He launched a federal leadership PAC called “Fairness PAC” last year to cover expenses for himself and his wife Chirlane McCray as they back liberal causes, support Democratic candidates — and likely raise the mayor’s national profile in the process.
The PAC’s creation followed a now-shuttered nonprofit he created in 2015, called the Progressive Agenda Committee. That group laid out a policy platform for liberal Democrats and aimed to try to move Hillary Clinton to the left on economic issues in the run-up to the 2016 election.
De Blasio’s effort was derided at the time by Clinton supporters and other Democrats, who wondered why de Blasio, Clinton’s former campaign manager, refused to outright endorse his former boss.
De Blasio’s day job as mayor has its challenges as well.
This week, a departmental trial began for a police officer’s role in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man — an incident that underscored the racial tensions in law enforcement in New York City.
The mayor also missed another extension to name a chairperson to lead the city’s public housing authority, which became so problematic on his watch it is now under the auspices of a federal monitor.
And on Monday, a former de Blasio fundraiser was sentenced to four years in jail for his role in a bribery scheme involving the police department.
“It’s no surprise that the mayor is learning on day 1 that running for President can’t get wedged between his mid morning workout and eating his late breakfast,” Risa Heller, chief executive of public affairs firm Risa Heller Communications, said in an email. “He’ll work out the kinks but America will groan along with New Yorkers until he does.”
Samantha Maldonado contributed to this report.