Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign emailed supporters a 2013 photo of his Republican opponent alongside Donald Trump, as part of a fundraising appeal on Thursday that painted her as the preferred candidate of the president.
"With Donald Trump as president, it’s no surprise Nicole Malliotakis has emerged as the Republican candidate to take on Mayor de Blasio — after all, it was only four years ago she talked to Trump about running for Governor of New York," wrote de Blasio’s campaign manager, Rick Fromberg, in the email.
De Blasio’s re-election campaign has tried to paint Malliotakis, a Staten Island Assemblywoman who is little-known in the rest of the city, as an acolyte of Trump. Malliotakis became the presumptive Republican nominee after Paul Massey, a real estate executive and first-time candidate, dropped out of the race last month.
On Twitter, de Blasio campaign aides echoed the emailed attack on Thursday morning, tweeting the picture of Malliotakis with Trump and Joseph Borrelli, a Staten Island Councilman and outspoken Trump supporter. A senior campaign aide also tweeted a quote from Malliotakis, where she said, “We share a common vision on many things having to do with economics.”
The email came as Malliotakis stood on a litter-filled street in southern Brooklyn, complaining about poor sanitation services in the area. Asked if she shares Trump’s economic vision, Malliotakis said she was unfamiliar with it, and that Trump is a distraction.
“The bottom line is that this has to explain to New Yorkers why, after doing such a miserable job, he deserves another term,” she told POLITICO New York. “This election is not about Trump, as much as he wants it to be, because Trump’s poll numbers are low in New York City, this election is not about Trump. It is about transit, traffic and trash.”
Asked how Trump would have done as governor, Malliotakis, who chaired Sen. Marco Rubio‘s presidential campaign in New York, but later voted for Trump for president, said, “I don’t know.”
“They invited us there to meet him," Malliotakis said of the meeting. "I honestly don’t think he ever really wanted to run for governor. I thought it was just to get media.”
In a subsequent interview on WNYC, Malliotakis cast herself as a middle-of-the-road candidate who will focus on local issues.
“I think I will be in a good position as a fellow Republican to negotiate and lobby” Trump and Republicans in Washington, she said.
Asked if Trump has been a better president for New York City residents than Hillary Clinton would have been, Malliotakis said there were “issues where I agree with the president” and some where she does not.
“This election is not about Donald Trump … this election is about the quality-of-life issues,” she said.