The two major candidates vying to be the next mayor of New York City faced off Tuesday for the last time before next week’s election, providing a testier version of the debate a week earlier.
Republican longshot Curtis Sliwa again labeled Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “teammate” and the Brooklyn borough president scoffed at his opponent’s “clown-like” behavior.
In a heated exchange during the one-hour ABC-7 debate, the salubrious former NYPD captain, apparently frustrated by Sliwa’s many interruptions, snapped, “You want to be the mayor of the City of New York? Start with discipline.”
After brushing off a question about Adams labeling him a “clown,” Sliwa quickly attempted to turn the tables and draw attention to questions about where Adams actually lives and repeated news stories about inaccuracies in his tax returns.
“But talking about faking, you fake where you live, Eric Adams! We still don’t know where you live; you live in Jersey, most people say,” Sliwa chided. “And then you blame a homeless person for your accounting problems with the IRS.”
“This is an example of the clown-like actions,” Adams shot back. “We’re not his circus, New Yorkers.
“He faked a kidnapping, he faked a robbery,” Adams continued, before digging into Sliwa’s own personal history.
Those included charges from Sliwa’s ex, Mary, that he failed to pay child support.
“He hid money so he wouldn’t have to pay child support,” Adams charged.
That war of words came after Sliwa took a question about the controversial policing tactic stop-and-frisk as an opportunity to draw attention to Adams claiming earlier in the day to have spoken to gang members.
“It’s amazing that my opponent, Eric Adams, just this morning on ‘The Breakfast Club,’ said that he had met with gang leaders ‘with bodies.’ That means gang leaders who killed and gang leaders who kill awaiting trial. Did you stop, question and frisk them? Do you report that to the police?” Sliwa asked, in reference to his morning radio interview.
“Can you tell us who those gang leaders were, and where you met with them and which gangs? I think the public has a right to know from someone who declares himself to be the law-and-order candidate.”
Adams explained that he spoke to “top gang members” with the aim of persuading them to take a different path in life — and to discover what led them to commit crimes.
“I’m speaking to those who have committed crimes to get them out of gangs,” he said “You could find and learn so much [from] those who commit crimes. … It’s time for us to find out what is causing the violence.”
Later, Sliwa insisted Adams is a close ally of de Blasio — who Sliwa gave a grade of “F” and labeled a “miserable failure.”
“You’ve been his partner, his teammate,” said the GOP longshot. “You partnered up with him, Eric Adams, for eight years.”
In a lighter moment, when prompted by a debate moderator to “say something nice” about their opponent, Adams lauded Sliwa for being a cat-lover while Sllwa said he admired Adams for becoming a vegan and preaching the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
“I take my hat off to Curtis, what he’s doing with cats,” said Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and clear front runner in the race for mayor. “I think we need to be humane to all living beings and that includes our animals.”
“His promotion of the vegan way of life to avoid serious medical issues has probably already helped dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of people,” Sliwa said. “I applaud you for that because I have seen the results of people who end up dying, suffering and in pain because they got caught with all kinds of problems — diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension.”
Following the lively, often personal match up, Adams’ campaign spokesman Evan Thies said in a tweet: “Short summary of the debate: that was man with a plan versus desperate with no details.”
Sliwa’s campaign rep said Adams would serve as “de Blasio 2.0” as mayor.
“Tonight, we saw why Sliwa’s opponent, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, is known as de Blasio 2.0.,” spokeswoman Maria Sliwa said in a statement. “Eric Adams will continue the legacy of Bill de Blasio, which will forever be remembered for rising crime and declining quality of life, as well as complete disregard for the homelessness and mental health crises affecting our great city,”
Early voting in the race to lead City Hall runs through Oct. 31. Find your voting location on the Board of Elections website at vote.nyc.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.