Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democratic challenger Fernando Ferrer continue to press the flesh as the candidates for mayor now have just two short weeks left before Election Day.
Last week it was former President Bill Clinton, and on Monday Ferrer had another big name Democrat at his side. Ferrer held a roundtable discussion and lunch today with Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry.
After touring a health clinic, they took aim at the mayor’s record on health care.
“While Mike Bloomberg has spent three and a half of his four years searching in vain for the Olympic games and trying to spend $1.2 billion of our money on a West Side football stadium, between a half-million and 800,000 New Yorkers who are otherwise eligible for one of three health insurance programs remains uncovered,” said Ferrer.
“I’m here to support Freddy Ferrer because I think the values that he represents and embraces, the difference he will make to the lives of children and schools with early childhood education, with after-school programs, with health care, with the investments this city needs in its infrastructure, those are the values that we ought to embrace,” said Kerry. “That’s a reason to vote for something, and I think people are tired of just voting against.”
Ferrer also criticized the mayor for vetoing a bill to toughen lead paint laws.
Kerry held a fundraiser for Ferrer Sunday night to help his cash-starved campaign. He’s the latest national big name Democrat to support Ferrer, after Bill and Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
In addition, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is hosting his second fundraiser for Ferrer on Monday night.
For his part, the mayor on Monday ducked Ferrer’s attack while talking up his own new plan to help more children get health insurance.
“We’ve improved the public hospitals so that everybody, regardless of their economic status, can get first rate health care,” said Bloomberg. “Before I came into office people were walking away from the public hospitals.”
The mayor says he will try to make sure all eligible city children are enrolled in the public health insurance program. According to Bloomberg, about 214,000 children are affected.
The mayor also says the city will help low income families pay for private health insurance and invest $25 million in health care technology. He says too many children lose their public health coverage because parents or guardians fail to recertify them each year.
“To ensure that children maintain their coverage from birth through age five, we will push for a change in state law that would simplify the recertification process by using existing city and state records to verify eligibility requirements and automatically reenroll qualifying children,” said Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, Crain’s New York is throwing its weight behind Bloomberg. In an editorial published Monday, the publication says, “New York is a far better place than it was when he became mayor four years ago.”
Crain’s adds that among the mayor’s accomplishments are a drop in crime and an upturn in the economy, and city the mayor for laying plans for future growth.
Crain’s also says the decision is easy because, “Democratic nominee Fernando Ferrer has for the most part failed to make clear what he would do differently, and the policies he has laid out would be harmful to the city.”
Crain’s supported Bloomberg’s rival in his first mayoral run four years ago, Democrat Mark Green.
Bloomberg also picked up some more support from across party lines Sunday, as members of the Crown Heights Political Action Committee and the Crown Heights Community Council threw their support behind the mayor’s re-election bid.
But the bigger news of the day came with the morning papers, as both the New York Times and Newsday endorsed the mayor. Neither paper backed him four years ago.