Sept. 20, 2019 - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces End of Campaign

Mayor de Blasio had been scheduled to speak at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry in Des Moines on Sept. 21.  However on the morning of Sept. 20 he announced the end of his campaign on MSNBC's Morning Joe.  Later in the morning, de Blasio appeared on The Brian Lehrer Show (transcript below) and de Blasio and First Lady McCray also held a media availability at Gracie Mansion.

Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on The Brian Lehrer Show

September 20, 2019
Brian Lehrer: It’s the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC. Good Friday morning everyone and as you may have heard earlier on the news, it just broke this morning, Mayor de Blasio has announced that he is ending his presidential campaign. And the Mayor joins us now as we begin as usual on Fridays with our weekly Ask the Mayor segment, my questions and yours for Mayor Bill de Blasio at 2-1-2-4-3-3-WNYC, 4-3-3-9-6-9-2 or you can tweet a question, just use the hashtag #AskTheMayor. Good morning, Mr. Mayor, welcome back to WNYC.

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, Brian.

Lehrer: Can you tell us why you made this decision and why now?

Mayor: Yeah, look, I feel very good about offering a vision of change to this country, largely based on what we did here in New York and I have to tell you, out there in states around the country, there was a lot of appreciation for things like Pre-K for All and, you know, guaranteeing health care for folks who do not have insurance and paid sick days – a lot of things we’ve done here really resonated with people I’ve talked to and focusing on the changes we need going forward. Talking about, for example, we need $15 minimum wage all over this country, we need a host of changes to improve the lives of working people and address challenges like automation, I’ve talked about in recent weeks, we need a national strategy to make sure that people by the millions don’t lose their jobs because of automation.

So I feel very good about being able to put these examples of real change out there, and put ideas and proposals out there to have an impact on the discussion, but I came to the conclusion that I had contributed what I could to the national discussion and it just wasn’t my time. It was not going to be possible to put together the support to get into the October debates and it was time to end the candidacy.

Lehrer: Now I will say as far as I am concerned there is no shame in trying something ambitious and failing. We learn as much from our failures than our successes in life, probably more. Can you share a top thing or two that you learned?

Mayor: Yeah, and I agree with your statement. I learned, first of all, fundamentally believe the country is less divided than what we’re all being told. Very, very different reality on the ground, I mean I spent – obviously – especially spent time in Iowa and Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire but I’ll tell you the dialogue there was very, very different than sort of the mainstream national dialogue. It was more hopeful, it’s more purposeful, less divided, more sense of we do not have to live this way. I think a lot of people are repulsed by the divisions that Trump has created and they’re ready to do something about.

So that was very positive. I have no doubt from my experience that the Democratic Party is moving in a progressive direction on the ground. I have no doubt that if we have a progressive economic message, that that’s what will decide the election based on all of the conversations I have had with people. I’m very worried, and I said it in my op-ed this morning that if we don’t have that sharp clear, progressive message, we still could lose to Donald Trump again. He has done a great job of pretending to be concerned about working people, I think people are seeing it through more and more, but I would just recognize that, you know, if Democrats ever start resting on our laurels about 2020, we’re crazy. It’s like we’ve got to say something to people, so—
Lehrer: Well in fact, let me cite your exact words on this and ask you to go a little deeper, because you said, Donald Trump lies to working people but least he pretends to talk to them. So by implication, do you think your colleagues in the presidential race and more generally in the Democratic Party, don’t even pretend to talk to working people?

Mayor: That is a critique of what happened over years and years in the Democratic Party and right up to 2016. I mean that’s a – when I say that, it does not mean that the current crop of candidates doesn’t have a lot of real progressives among them and there are some great, great examples and some people who I think are doing a great talking to working people, but I’m pointing out a history that we better come to grips. I mean it was the Democrats that did NAFTA,  a lot of people in the industrial Midwest are still angry about that, they don’t want to see Democrats do another NAFTA. Democrats, too often, seem to be too close to the big donors and not willing to break the status quo.

So I think this is one of those moments, Brian, where if we make mistakes in the past, we still could lose. What I’m happy to say, a number of us on that debate stage, and I was proud to be in a solid group of progressives that challenged that orthodoxy, particularly on things like universal health care. Like it really matters it was not just one progressive fighting, you know, nine moderates that in fact it was a little bit more of a fair fight this time and there were a number of progressive voices. I think today’s Democratic Party might actually get it right. But my caution is that people are falling into this kind of electability trap, it must be a moderate, that’s how you get elected, I think it’s the exact opposite. It must be someone who stands for change or else we might not win this election.

Lehrer: The way I saw your roll of the dice, on giving this a shot, as a matter of political analysis, and I’m curious how much you would now put it this way now that it is over, is that, you’ve been very popular with black voters here in the city, and I think a lot of, you know, media missed that when they say your poll numbers are 40-something percent approval, well there are 30-something percent approval among whites, 66 percent in the last Quinnipiac among black New Yorkers. So you have more history and relatability in various black communities than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren have had, so you took a shot that you could build the winning coalition of black voters and white progressives which has so far been elusive for anyone who’s still in the field. Is that close to how you saw it?

Mayor: There’s some truth in that for sure, Brian, and I – look I think the fact is the Democratic primaries clearly are dominated by more progressive voters, and in some states for sure, by people of color and that’s, you know, those are constituencies that I’ve always had strength with and that’s the winning coalition that brought me to City Hall and brought me to City Hall for a second term. So yeah, I think you’re absolutely right that that was part of what I saw, but remember, you know, how you win primaries and then how you win the general election, there has to be a consistency and resonance, and I felt fundamentally, and I have to tell you, I talked to Republicans, I talked to independents out there, I felt they were waiting for Democrats to be Democrats. They were waiting, meaning the kind of historic message of the Democratic Party in terms of working people, in terms of labor unions, bread and butter issues. I think a lot – I had these conversations with labor union members who were soured on the Democratic Party, who – some of whom even voted for Trump – but it was not because they had become “conservative,” it’s because they didn’t believe the Democrats were real anymore and they didn’t believe they were fighting for working people. So, I believed that my approach would work in a primary context but I also believed it was the ultimate message that would work in a general election context. And it was worth a try, and I don’t regret taking a try. I think you’re right, we learn either way in life from our experiences. But the most important thing is if you don’t make it, at least put some ideas out there and contribute to the discussion. And I hope I was able to do that.

Lehrer: So, what do you make of the fact that Joe Biden, with all his historical baggage and even some things he’s saying in the campaign is such a clear favorite among black Democrats in the opinion polls, at least, so far?

Mayor: Well, so far is the operative word. And, again, I respect the Vice President. I obviously don’t agree with him on some things, but so far when you talk about September and there’s all of October, November, December, January, and then people start voting in February, there’s a lot more to play out. I think a lot of candidates are still not as well-known as they could be or their whole message clearly has not gotten out and that will be concentrated toward the election. I think it’s too early to, you know, do coronations around here. I think in the end, certainly, Democratic voters – I really feel this [inaudible] thousands of encounters with, and conversations with everyday Democrats all over the country, they want change. They want something very different and the nominee has to be someone who understands that and expresses that.

Lehrer: I think the challenge for people with your views on the issues is going to be to choose between Warren and Sanders – correct me if you think I’m wrong – but how would somebody go about making that choice? How will you go about deciding who to endorse and when?

Mayor: I’m not – today is just not the day to talk about if I’m going to make an endorsement. I just don’t want to go into that kind of analysis. I think there are a number of good candidates including those two folks who I think the world of. And you know, that’s something I’ll think about but again I think we’re all kind of forgetting – and this is a truth I learned out there – if I had to guess, Brian, out of all of the conversation that I had, I’d say 80 percent-plus of the voters I spoke to were not going to make up their mind until very close to the primary election. And if they were expressing a preference in the poll, they only say it as a preference, not a lock down. And that is being missed in this discourse. I think there is tremendous potential for a lot of movement here –

Lehrer: It’s a great point and there was actually a poll this week that found – I think it was NBC, but I’m not sure – found only nine percent of Democrats said they have firmly made up their mind for the primaries.

Mayor: Yep, and I think this is – I get the – and I don’t blame anyone in the media who is trying to work on the horse race and you know generate interesting stories. But I think this is again the difference when you’re on the ground and why I come back very encouraged is just folks don’t look at it that way. Their lives don’t revolve around election. Their lives revolve around their families, their work, their community, and they are waiting to be inspired, waiting to be convinced. That’s not going to happen until very close to the time that they vote. And so, there’s lots of room for a candidate to really offer a compelling progress vision and move people. And there’s also a lot of room for folks to be questioned and if they have too many contradictions, you know, that’s going to come back to haunt them. So there’s time on the clock.

Lehrer: So, the New York media hammered relentlessly on travelling to campaign rather than staying home to govern more, and I’ll be candid and say you may have noticed I never made that much of a thing here on Ask the Mayor, because, in my opinion, elected officials currently in office do run for higher office all the time. That’s routine and legitimate and I thought it got a little overblown as an issue. But can you describe candidly what was challenging about running and governing at the same time, because obviously being Mayor of New York City is a more time-intensive commitment then say being a U.S. Senator where you are just one of 100 or more than, I don’t know, Mayor of South Bend?


Mayor: Just to choose an example.

Lehrer: Just to choose a random example. So, how was it a challenge?

Mayor: Well, I want to start where you began. I thought there was a huge dissonance between the sort of, the noise and the reality. So, the irony of all of this is, the job in question is President of United States, it’s the ultimate CEO job on Earth. And I have a job which many have called the second toughest job in America and we’ve managed to do really big things. And I think, you know, one of the things Chuck Schumer when he endorsed me for re-election, he said it’s as simple as this, if jobs are up and crime is down you must be doing something right. I think that what is missing here throughout was the notion – first, what you said, it is normal in a democratic system that people who have achieved a certain office and gotten something done will run for higher office. That is the very fundamental nature of the system we’ve had for almost 250 years. Some – you know, certainly some of the writers and observers seemed to act like this was suddenly a news flash that someone might run for a higher office in the sixth year of their mayoralty. And I think that’s also a crucial point. Six years in, you know, here’s my experience – your team is really set, your game plan is really set. You know the issues, you know what has to be done and you keep executing it. And when you are a CEO, and, you know, I am a progressive so I am saying that from a public sector point of view – CEO – it is all about strategy, it is about the team you build. It ‘about how you instruct your team and then pushing your team to perform, watching for where there’s distances or gaps. I felt that the team was really moving the agenda and I was watching it every hour of every day. I mean, I would just – all the time, you get up in the morning, you are looking at emails, you are on the phone all day long. And even while interspersed with campaign events, speeches whatever, you keep doing that. That’s the nature of running something. And I think what was missing was an understanding of, if you are running something this big and complex, you know – of course going to community events matters for sure and having different meetings matter, but you have to delegate so much, you have to focus on the bigger strategic direction, you have to make adjustments all the time.

Lehrer: Yes.

Mayor: You have to do that wherever you are, whenever it is, and that’s what I was able to keep doing.

Lehrer: But it was pointed out that you spent many fewer days at City Hall then you did earlier in your administration. The Post says just seven hours in all of May this year, the month you announced your campaign. But even last year before the campaign, the Times did an article noting you were down to about 10 days a month, in person at City Hall, much less then when you started the administration. So, how can we expect that to change, if at all, now that the campaign is over?

Mayor: That was always such a misrepresentation and I tried to explain it and I don’t blame you for repeating it, but I really think this is like a little willful on people’s part if they want to really assume that’s the truth when it’s been proven it isn’t. It’s not about the hours at City Hall. One of the things that came out in that Times reporting was that they missed all the time that I was out in communities. We literally did a thing called City Hall in Your Borough. And we took City Hall into different boroughs for a week at a time. You know, I’ve done 64 town hall meetings as Mayor, I’m going to be doing a lot more. There’s a lot of work I do at Gracie. I’ve been very clear about that. I think Gracie Mansion is a place where you know a lot of our meetings actually are more effective because it’s an atmosphere where people can focus more compared to the franticness of City Hall. And when we are doing big strategic decisions including things that cost, you know, not millions but billions of dollars, like we really want that atmosphere, we can have a thoughtful conversation. So, if you add up all the work I’m doing, not how many hours I am in one place, but all the work I am doing of all different kind, it is an immense amount of work and the most important thing is what does it achieve for people? Well, you know, again, we are literally continually to drive down crime, continuing to add jobs, continuing to build out early childhood education and improve our schools. This is what we are here to do. And most – and when I am out there is communities people get it, they really do. It’s not are you working at City Hall, are you working at Gracie Mansion or are you at a town hall meeting in the community, it’s what’s getting done?

Lehrer: And so, one more question and we’ll go to calls. With term limits, you now enter the home stretch of your mayoralty for the next two years and a few months. If you have a few big things you’d like to finish or add to feel really good about finishing strong, what might that be?

Mayor: Well, I feel great about what’s been achieved so far. We’re actually not even to the midpoint of this term, so the official count is two years, three months, and 11 days more to go, and I’ve got a lot to do. So, first of all, I want to see 3-K built out as far as we can. Pre-K has been an extraordinary success, 3-K is doing really well, parents are very enthusiastic. I want it to get to universal status in the next few years, so we have to do a lot over these next two years and three months. I want to take the guaranteed health care plan and make it come alive. We’ve got 600,000 uninsured people. I want to get them all coverage in one form or another, or direct health care through NYC Care – and that’s going well, but a lot to do. I want to make sure that we pass the legislation guaranteeing two weeks paid vacation to all working people. We’ve got a million New Yorkers who don’t have a single guaranteed day of paid vacation right now in the whole year – a million people – and I want to fix that and that’s something we’re going to work on hard with the City Council. And a lot more where that came from – so, very ambitious agenda that’s going to keep growing. Green New Deal – obviously, we’ve done some big pieces but there’s a lot more to do over these next two years plus. And I want New York to be the place where the Green New Deal is proven, that it is the strategy that works, and that’s particularly pertinent today with the climate strike, which I’ll be joining into, that we need to be one of the places on this Earth that proves the Green New Deal is the right strategy.

Lehrer: Well, since you ended with that, let’s make our first caller Jason in Manhattan. You’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Jason.

Question: Hey, thanks, Brian. And I wanted to welcome the Mayor back to New York City. I had a question for you this week – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson this week came out in support of expanding the protected bike lane on 10th Avenue to 52nd Street and 14th Street, as well as the expansion of the protected bike lane on the southern section of 6th Avenue. I wanted to get the Mayor’s position on that bike lane proposal.
Mayor: First of all, Jason, I think I’m quoting correctly one of the great characters in film history, James Bond, where – I think it was Quantum of Solace or Casino Royale – and M says to him, welcome back. And he said, I never left. So, I appreciate the welcome back, but, again, I’ve been every day focused on this city and continuing to move the agenda. As to the bike lane proposals, we are very aggressive about building out bike lanes all over the city. On the specific one you mentioned, I’m not sure I know the exact streets or the exact plan, but the overall plan is to build out bike lane capacity in terms of all five boroughs, and particularly protected bike lanes wherever practical as quickly as possible. So, if you want to tell me – if there’s any very specific thing you’re asking about – but that’s the direction we’re going in.

Lehrer: Alright, Jason, thank you. But let me follow up on that – and, again, you mentioned the Green New Deal as a major goal for expansion between now and the end of your term. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was here this week, touting his plan to break car culture, as he calls it – a concept that you’ve endorsed – by proposing a city streets master plan that would include many more protected bike lanes, like the one Jason is asking about, and other things. But in this clip, he said his proposal does not have your administration’s support. Listen –

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: Well, they didn’t testify, as you just said, Brian, in favor of the bill when we had the hearing a couple of months ago. And I really respect Commissioner Polly Trottenberg from the Department of Transportation, so I’m not sure where it’s coming from, but they were not in favor of it. It is time for us to really completely revolutionize how we share street space in New York City and that’s what this proposed master plan does. It is a road map to breaking the car culture in a thoughtful, comprehensive way.

Lehrer: Speaker Johnson here this week – he cited it would require 50 miles of protected bike lanes to be built every year, it would install 30 miles of protected bus lanes every year, and it would bring transit signal priority to at least 1,000 intersections a year, which means if a bus arrives at an intersection, they would get a special transit signal priority to move through the intersection before private cars. So, why don’t you support the master plan as it is?

Mayor: So, this is an example, Brian, of sort of aggressively sharing goals. I think the Speaker is right about having to move away from what is really an American phenomenon, not a New York City phenomenon of an over-focus on cars and giving too much deference to cars, including missing the safety elements. That’s why Vision Zero has been so important – and it’s really been embraced by New Yorkers. So, I agree with him on his analysis of needing to reorient our society away from cars. I agree with him that we need to be aggressive in terms of bike lanes and bus lanes. I think the dissonance here is about how we figure out achievable goals. What we hear a lot of times from communities, not unfairly, is that they want these changes put in place in a way that is respectful of the needs of the community, that actually listens to what people experience on the ground, some of these things affect small business in a very big way, there’s lots of adjustments. And, in fact, a lot of times people have said they don’t want us to just do things without listening to communities first and trying to accommodate valid needs. That does not mean after that process I haven’t often made the decision that even though there’s been complaints and concerns, the public safety element was the most important and we’ve made the decision to move ahead with a lot of bike lanes for that reason. But this amount as sort of a mandate is something we have to really think through – is it achievable on this kind of timeline? Does it create a dynamic where there would not be sensitivity to valid community needs? How do we balance those things? So, I think the Speaker and I are moving very much in the same direction. I’m going to absolutely be speaking with him about this, but I think we want to just be careful that we are cognizant of community needs as we do this and we set an appropriate pace.

Lehrer: To another caller – Iliana in Brooklyn, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hi, Iliana.

Question: Hi. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. Good morning, Brian.

Lehrer: Good morning.

Question: I’m a City employee with NYPD. I’m a police communication technician and I just [inaudible] whole issue of us being classified as [inaudible] I think it’s a long-time coming. 9-1-1 in New York City has been around for over 50 years and we’re not considered first responders. We need the Mayor to step in and we need him to visit the centers in MetroTech and in Brooklyn to come in and to recognize our work. We need the Mayor to follow Texas, the Governor of Texas and recognize us as first responders. There is a [inaudible] gap between what we’re making and what our counterparts in the Fire Department are making. It needs to be addressed. It’s an issue that is [inaudible] and I believe the Mayor is open and willing to address this issue. We’re underpaid, grossly underpaid and this issue needs to be addressed, right? We’re paying tolls back and forth to work, we’re not properly being compensated. It’s not like we’re going on family barbecue or anything – we’re working, we’re serving the public, most times for over 16 hours a day. It’s just not fair.

Lehrer: Mr. Mayor? Let me get you a response Iliana, stay there.

Mayor: Hey Iliana, thank you. First of all, Iliana, thank you for the work you do and it’s really crucial to the city, and I do appreciate it, and I would like to come visit and see firsthand. You know, I had not heard that proposal previously, honestly, about the classification. It’s something I’m happy to talk to you about. I’m not going to make a commitment without having a real thoughtful discussion, but I do appreciate for sure the work that’s done and I think it would be helpful to see it firsthand. So, if you will give your information to WNYC, I’ll have my team follow up and set up a visit for the next month or so. And I look forward to having a real dialogue with you.

Question: I’m going to hold you to this and I’m really going to be looking forward to meeting you as soon as possible, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor: Thank you, Iliana.

Question: Please let me know and thank you for your work.

Lehrer: Iliana, let me ask you one follow-up question, if you’re a 9-1-1 operator, maybe you have an observation that would help us report a story, because I see the firefighters union is blaming Vision Zero for a worrisome increase in response times, eight percent, or about 25 seconds per 9-1-1 call to the fire department. They blame concrete barriers, and flower pots, and other physical barriers intended to make traffic go slower. Is there anything that you can tell from your post as a 9-1-1 operator whether response times are down and if so, if anything is causing it?

Question: I mean, to be honest, we all live in New York City, it’s overcrowded. I mean New Yorkers, from my experience dealing with the general public, are not the best at cooperating at all. And what we do need is public education also that allows 9-1-1 operators – 9-1-1 – people in the field to know what to say when they call 9-1-1. We need your address, we need your information. There should be a public service announcement that could even help police and first responders’ response time to getting to the address. That’s – yeah.

Lehrer: Okay, Iliana, thank you so much. No we are going to put you on hold, we’ll get your contact information and we’ll make sure that the Mayor’s people get it. Mr. Mayor, what do you say about the slower response times and the reason put forth from the firefighters union?

Mayor: I was really surprised by that, Brian. I don’t find that accurate at all. First of all, the fire department is doing an amazing job. Fire deaths are down by 30 percent. They’ve done an extraordinary job protecting New Yorkers. I think Iliana is pointing out something crucial, it’s a very crowded city that’s gotten more crowded. More jobs, more residents, more tourists, and more construction. All of which are not, per se, bad things but they do create a lot of challenges on the roads. We’re trying to address congestion in a lot of ways. I think that’s the central issue facing the fire department. But Vision Zero is about saving lives. I mean this is the great irony of this critique – Vision Zero is clearly saving a lot of lives. It has now for five straight years. And that’s what we’re here to do. So there’s something, I think, really misses the mark in that analysis.

Lehrer: And the news organization The City noted this week that you can’t text for help to 9-1-1 yet, a year-and-a-half after the projected launch date of Text 9-1-1. Can you give us a status report on that?

Mayor: Yeah, I – obviously this is really important. This is something we need to get done, and it should have been done already honestly. But I do appreciate there’s a lot of complexities to getting it right. The projection is that it will be done in the middle of next year. And I want to say, it frustrates me, but by the same token there is a real important imperative here to get it right and to make sure it is perfect. We do not want to set something up and then people are calling in a life and death matter and somehow the information doesn’t travel accurately. So, we’re – you know we’re sort of abundance of caution. But by the middle of next year we do believe it will be all fully operational.

Lehrer: Lahmin in the Bronx, you’re on WNYC with the Mayor. Hello, Lahmin.

Question: Hi, thank you Brian for taking my call, thank you Mr. Mayor. Just want to – I have to complain, the 9-1-1 call I made on October 10th – sorry, August on 10th, last month.

Lehrer: August 10th.

Question: I was attacked by this guy in front of my building for illegally parking in the driveway. I told him to move his car so that I could load my truck. He used foul and profane language at me, I didn’t say anything. I went to my [inaudible] I was calling my friend to come and help me, and he attacked me telling me I that I was calling 9-1-1 police on him. I sustained some injuries, I stay over there and call 9-1-1 – never show up, police never show up. I went to the police station, I gave my report to the detective, she took all my information, and then I’ve been calling. We have a photo verification, I did everything right. He [inaudible] this guy is still standing in front of my building, harassing people. Anytime I—

Lehrer: What would you – what are you asking, just for time, Lahmin, forgive me. What are you asking the Mayor to do?

Question: I’m disappointed about the absence of the police, the detective, she doesn’t do anything about my case for more than a month. Anytime I call her – 47th Precinct. I don’t want to say her name on the air.

Lehrer: Yeah, thank you for that. Mr. Mayor, should he leave his contact information?

Mayor: Yes, absolutely. Lahmin, please give your information to WNYC. Our team will call you directly and then we will follow up with the NYPD. It sounds like, first of all, you have a real concern that there wasn’t follow through on the first case. And then if the individual is still around and you feel is threatening, we need to intervene immediately. PD needs to act on that immediately. So we will follow-up directly today on this so please give your information to WNYC.

Lehrer: Lahmin, hang on we will definitely take your information and make sure the Mayor’s people get it and follow up with you. So, we’re almost out of time and last thing, and this was going to be lead until you dropped out of the presidential race this morning. Today is the global student climate strike, and you’ve given students permission for an excused absence with a note from their parents if they want to take part. But teachers may not participate, and they’re complaining that this disadvantages younger, low-income kids, so it’s an inequality issue, whose parents can’t take the day off to chaperone them like people from families with more flexibility financially. What do you say to that inequality issue?

Mayor: I would say, first of all, let’s get to the most important point. This climate strike, this climate march is crucial as another wake-up call to the fact that we have to move to the Green New Deal and other really aggressive strategies to address global warming. And I do believe that youth leadership is going to be one of the reasons why this planet gets saved, so I really commend all the young people who are stepping up here. What we said was, there had to be parental permission. And look, I think it’s fair to say most of the kids who are going to participate are going to be high-school students. They do not need that chaperone dynamic if they have the parental permission. So I’m not sure that that critique is really going to play out in many, many cases.
But, the teachers, you know, there’s a clear rule, it’s been there for a long time at DOE, that we have to be very careful that teachers are not involved in any political opportunity – any political activity, I should say of any kind during their work hours, and so that’s a rule that sort of is carefully protected because it is important to keep that objectivity and fairness. But in terms of this extraordinary moment that is this global climate strike, we understood that many, many kids wanted to participate, we wanted to do it in an orderly, smart way, and so we came up with a permission structure for it, and I do believe that kids will be able to participate on a very, very broad level in reality.

Lehrer: And finally, what do you say to people on the right who are complaining that you’re only excusing absences of the students because this is seen as a liberal cause. If there was a global strike for an abortion ban, let’s say, on human rights terms, as they define it, they don’t think you’d give the same permission.

Mayor: I don’t deal with hypotheticals. We’ve had precisely two examples in six years. We had the movement for gun safety after, you know, students were killed in the high school in Parkland, Florida, and unprecedented movement of student leadership around the country grew to save their own lives. And now we have an unprecedented level of youth leadership to save the planet. Those are the two times that this has been pertinent.

I’ve never seen anything like either of them since the 1960’s honestly. I think it’s profound, I think it’s going to be part, again, of what fundamentally changes this country and this world. So, you know, we will deal with each case in turn, but there’s literally only been two and I don’t think there was anything like it before that ever reached this kind of national and global level and that’s what makes it unique.

Lehrer: Thanks as always Mr. Mayor, talk to you next week.

Mayor: Take care, Brian. Thanks.