Mayor Bill de Blasio pitched his presidential dreams to a crowd of about 15 likely Democratic voters at an event Sunday morning in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With more than enough empty space to accommodate his 6-foot-5 frame, the quixotic candidate took the floor at Parlor City Pub to a smattering of applause from the sleepy brunch set.
“Everything should be about our families, our lives, what everyday people are going through, what working people are going through,” de Blasio told the crowd, which numbered around 15 — not counting the press corps, campaign staff and Iowa State Sen. Rob Hogg, the event organizer.
“If we as Democrats are talking about that, we’re winning,” said de Blasio, before reiterating his campaign slogan, “Working people first.
“Here’s the bottom line: We have a country that’s favored the 1 percent now for literally 40 years,” said de Blasio. “The rich have gotten richer. Everybody else has been pretty much treading water.”
The pitch was met with a mixed reception by the few there to hear it.
“I liked a lot of what he said,” offered Carol Wickey, a 78-year-old retiree. “[But] I thought in his prepared comments he focused too much on working people.”
Wickey said that she feared the divisive tone would drive a wedge between Democratic voters and ultimately wasn’t sold.
“He did not say anything that would sway me that he would be my choice as a candidate,” she said. “Nothing made him stand out among the other two dozen people.”
Geoff Johnson had a similar takeaway, reacting somewhat fondly to many of de Blasio’s ideas, but questioning whether he had enough faith in the campaign’s “viability” to caucus for Hizzoner.
“There are 25 candidates,” said the 40-year-old call-center worker. “He’s fairly high on the list, but I’m not sure he quite makes the top five at this point, but some of that may just be because of the viability situation.”
De Blasio will spend the rest of Sunday at the Iowa State Fair, long a bellwether in the early days of campaign season.
At the event — where protesters have followed him with gripes from back home — de Blasio said he’s looking forward to a battle of carnival games with son Dante.
“There’s gonna be a father-son competition,” he told the Cedar Rapids attendees. “Yes, Dante may be younger, he may be stronger, he may be better-looking, but that’s not going to stop me. Wisdom also counts.”
Additional reporting by Aaron Feis
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