Bill Clinton backs fellow Democrat, but event is marred by snags
NEW YORK – Former President Clinton threw his political heft Thursday behind the Democrat running against Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but it was far from a seamless campaign stop.Clinton stumped with Fernando Ferrer on a South Bronx street that Clinton called an example of urban renewal. The fellow Democrats visited the same street during Clinton’s second term in 1997, when Ferrer was Bronx borough president.Clinton on Thursday credited Ferrer with “trying to help the people of the Bronx reach their full potential. … I saw the progress made here on these streets, through his leadership.”Ferrer’s underdog campaign has struggled to make a dent in Bloomberg’s lead, which was nearly 30 points in the latest opinion polls, and hoped to get a push from the joint appearance. Clinton is popular in New York City, where Democrats outnumber Republicans five-to-one.But it seemed Thursday that the opportunity might be wasted as miscommunication between Clinton’s office and Ferrer’s campaign caused some snags.Less than an hour before the event, people from Clinton’s team and the Ferrer campaign stood shouting at each other in the middle of the blocked-off street, arguing about logistics. An area reserved for press was moved, reconfigured and pushed back several times.Representatives from Clinton’s office also vetoed the use of speakers and a small stage. Left without any way to hear Clinton and Ferrer as they spoke, many reporters handed their tape recorders and microphones to children who were standing closer.Several hundred people showed up, but many of them shouted “we can’t hear you” as Clinton and Ferrer addressed the crowd.Representatives of both men acknowledged there was confusion but proclaimed the event a success because of the large turnout.”The crowd was so big that it made it hard for folks to hear, and we’re sorry about that,” Ferrer spokeswoman Jen Bluestein said.In 1977, President Carter toured the same neighborhood, then littered with broken bottles and trash, and vowed to look for ways to clean up what he called the worst slum in America.