CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF
Updated: Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 1:42 PM
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz swooped into Manhattan Wednesday and promptly hit Mayor de Blasio below the belt when he said cops who turned their backs on him were speaking for all Americans.
“When heroes of NYPD stood up and turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio, they spoke not just for the men and women of New York, but for Americans all across this nation,” said Cruz at the GOP Party & Women’s National Republican Club in Midtown.
Cruz’s remarks escalated comments he made earlier Wednesday, when he said on “CBS This Morning” the criticism of his call to monitor American Muslim neighborhoods in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks was just political.
De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton were two of the most vocal critics, with Bratton saying it was so out of line it showed why he’d never win the White House race.
“He doesn’t know the hell what he is talking about, to be frank with you,” Bratton said.
“While he’s running around here, he probably has some Muslim officers guarding him.”
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz says Mayor de Blasio has sent “Democratic political henchman” after him.
Later, during an radio interview, Bratton went after the Texas senator again on the monitoring.
“He is maligning a whole population group. A religion. That’s not the American way,” Bratton said on “The John Gambling Show” on AM970. “Mr. Cruz showed his naivete of the police department. I don’t recall Mr. Cruz in uniform at any time fighting for his country. This election campaign is painting everyone with the broad brush. We focus on people committing the crime…the disorder, not the population.”
President Obama, in a press conference in Argentina, ridiculed Cruz’s proposal, saying it “makes no sense” and is “un-American.”
“I just left a country that engages in that kind of surveillance which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped, to America, the land of the free,” Obama said in Buenos Aires, referring his recent stop in Cuba.
Cruz, who has been in an increasingly bitter back and forth with de Blasio, joked that the mayor held a press conference just to denounce him for coming to the city.
“If Mayor de Blasio ever holds a press conference and says ‘I agree with Ted’ that will be the instant I hang it all up,” Cruz said during his address in Midtown.
He took it one step further, to the delight of the right-wing crowd, by bringing up police officers turning their backs to the mayor.
De Blasio famously feuded with the police unions after the chokehold death of the unarmed Eric Garner in police custody, leading cops to turn their backs on him at the funerals of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
On CBS Wednesday morning, Cruz began his attacks on Bratton and de Blasio.
“It’s not surprising that the Democratic political henchman of Mayor de Blasio are coming after me,” he said.
“And that is on the instructions of Mayor de Blasio.”
De Blasio (left) and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton (second from left) spoke out against Cruz’s call to monitor American Muslim neighborhoods following the attacks in Brussels.
He added, “It was ISIS that has declared jihad, that is waging war on us. And President Obama and Hillary Clinton and sadly Mayor de Blasio, the elected Democrats, who are so bound up by political correctness, they refuse to utter the word radical Islamic terrorism.”
He also took aim at de Blasio for disbanding what he said was ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s successful NYPD surveillance program on Muslim communities.
Those programs were highly controversial, and led Muslims to file a lawsuit against the city.
“Mayor de Blasio came in and decided political correctness mattered more than keeping people safe. He disbanded the program,” said Cruz.
A spokesman for the mayor laughed off Cruz’s attacks.
“We understand why Ted Cruz is lashing out. He’s not going to be the Republican nominee. Life gets better, though, when you focus on helping people, not dividing them with eleventh-hour political rhetoric out of desperation,” said Karen Hinton, the mayor’s press secretary.