He never seemed to mind becoming a national laughingstock, fodder for late-night comedians, human dart board for a merciless press and object of ridicule even in his own hometown.
But after 128 days of nearly non-existent poll numbers, paltry crowds, dismal fundraising and tabloid indignities portraying a doomed knight-errant jousting at windmills, he finally called it quits.
Unapologetic, not exactly humble, evincing a trace of defiance, and still plugging his “robot tax,” Democratic presidential fantasist Bill de Blasio finally acknowledged what most of America seemed to know from the moment he tossed his halo in the ring on May 16:
“I feel like I’ve contributed all that I can to this primary election, and it’s clearly not my time, and so I’m going to end my presidential campaign,” the mayor told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Sept. 20. It was, he said with evident pride, “an extraordinary experience.”
Later, on WNYC, the pol derided for a perceived lack of interest in his day job at City Hall signaled he was revving up for government service anew, saying he would swiftly throw himself back into the fray. “Two years, three months and 11 days more to go!” de Blasio declared, referring to the time remaining in his second and last mayoral term.
Critics responded with barbs and mirth, and chief among them was a fellow Manhattanite and inveterate antagonist: “Oh, no, there’s really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years!” President Donald Trump said in a tweet.
“Part-time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO, but had tremendous room for growth, has shockingly dropped out of the Presidential race,” he wrote. “NYC is devastated, he’s coming home!”
Of course, Trump isn’t exactly known for accurately marshaling all his facts. The mayor’s average in the Real Clear Politics poll over his four-month run had actually ranged between 0.2 and 0.6 percent, and his national polling peak came on Aug. 28 when he hit 1 percent for the first time in a Quinnipiac University survey.
Still, one can say this of de Blasio’s bid with only a modest amount of irony – thanks for the memories. And there were a few real standouts, among them:
* THE BRANDING FIASCO Trump, he said, is a “con artist,” and “every New Yorker knows it...We know his tricks, and we know his playbook, too.” So far, so good. But then he took to Twitter to tar the president as “ConDon.” Only to be roundly mocked because the word means “condom” in Spanish.
* THE FLAPPING FARCE During a visit to a South Carolina church, the mayor was captured on video awkwardly flapping his arms as a choir performed R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.” Never mind that the disgraced singer was facing sexual abuse charges and had faced similar allegations for nearly two decades. De Blasio said he didn’t know the R. Kelly number and would never condone misogynistic behavior.
* THE CHE GUEVARA CONTRETEMPS At a rally in Miami for striking airport workers, he shouted out in Spanish, “Hasta la victoria, siempre!" – “Until victory, always!” Turns out, that was the Cuban revolutionary’s signature battle cry. And not a very smart way to win over the anti-Castro electorate in Florida. The mayor apologized, insisted he had been unaware the phrase was associated with Che and said he never meant to offend anyone.
* THE ENDORSEMENTS Well, it’s a very short list. But he did win the backing of two Podunk-town mayors in South Carolina, Frank McClary of Andrews (population, 2,900) and Michael Butler of Orangeburg (population, 12,750), which he had to visit three times before finally closing the deal with Butler.
* THE TURNOUT In a word, it was small. Just 20 people showed up when he held a roundtable on mental health issues in New Hampshire, the first primary state in the nation. Oh, wait a minute, 14 of them were on the panel in Concord and only six were in the audience. But he did take a bunch of selfies, and he told everyone how much he adored the Boston Red Sox.
* THE “MECHANICAL ISSUE” BACK HOME It was July 13 when a 65-block chunk of Manhattan’s West Side was hit with a massive power blackout affecting 73,000 customers and leaving hundreds of people trapped in subways and elevators. Where was Bill as other pols raced to the scene and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson played the role of de facto mayor?
Waterloo, Iowa. At a union hall for auto workers. Trying to make up his mind if he should remain on the campaign trail or come home to deal with a potentially life-threatening emergency. “It’s simply a mechanical issue,” he told reporters at first. “A transmission problem” that would, he hoped, get resolved in a “relatively quick period of time.”
But the outage lasted for five hours, and after considerable dithering, the mayor finally left the Hawkeye State and returned home.
And now, he’s back home once again. The era of the Wing Ding, the traditional chicken-wing centered campaign event he attended in Clear Lake, Iowa, and the Twisted Spur Happy Hour, where he dropped by in Columbia, S.C., is at an end.
But de Blasio also made it clear on “Morning Joe” that he has no intention whatsoever of abandoning the national political scene. “Whoever is the nominee,” he said, “I’m going to be there for them.”
“NYC is devastated, he’s coming home!” Tweet from President Donald Trump