Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's characterization of Bill de Blasio's New York mayoral campaign as "racist" was "out of line," and a new poll showed de Blasio holding a big lead heading into Tuesday's Democratic primary.
De Blasio, the city's public advocate, has 36 percent support among Democrats likely to vote, while former Comptroller Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn each have 20 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist poll released Sunday night. They were trailed by former Rep. Anthony Weiner at 7 percent and Comptroller John Liu at 5 percent. De Blasio would need 40 percent to avoid a runoff.
Until Sunday, Cuomo had remained largely silent about the Democratic race, except for his comment last May that if Weiner won, "shame on us." But the attack on de Blasio, who worked for him in the 1990s when Cuomo was HUD secretary, drew a response.
"I don't know what was actually said, what the context was," Cuomo said. "But the comments that were reported clearly are out of line and have no place in our political discourse."
Bloomberg, in interviews published on New York magazine's website Saturday, criticized de Blasio for running a "class-warfare and racist" mayoral campaign. He pointed to the prominent use of de Blasio's biracial family.
Cuomo called the de Blasios a "beautiful family" and said he remembers when Dante, 16, and Chiara, 19, were born. "And I think he should be very proud of his family, and if I were Bill, I would be campaigning with my family," Cuomo said in Orchard Park, N.Y., where he visited with Buffalo Bills tailgaters.
De Blasio, after a campaign rally in downtown Brooklyn, expressed gratitude to Cuomo.
"Speaking as our governor and speaking as the head of the Democratic Party, I think he said something really powerful about our values," he said.
A Bloomberg spokesman Sunday said he had no comment on Cuomo's remarks.
The three top-polling Democrats held rallies Sunday to fire up their bases.
About 200 people gathered at an Upper West Side women's rally for Quinn, who would be the first female and first openly gay mayor. She asked for help in getting out the vote and played up the historical nature of her bid with a nod to the suffragettes of a century ago.
"We might think this campaign is hard, but think back to the women who won us our right to vote," she said. "Nothing compares to what they went through."
Former Comptroller Bill Thompson hosted rallies in Brooklyn, first with Jewish supporters and then with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
"We have two days to bring this home," Thompson said. "The things we do over the next 48 hours will determine the next mayor."
De Blasio, with his wife, Chirlane McCray, and celebrity supporters Harry Belafonte and Cynthia Nixon, spoke to more than 200 supporters in Brooklyn and highlighted the diversity of the crowd. "You look like New York City," he told them.
"Everything up till now is prelude," he said. "The real work is the next two days."
Sunday's poll found de Blasio leading among female, black, white, Latino, Jewish and Catholic voters.
It also showed the Democratic race for comptroller too close to call. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer had 47 percent to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's 45 percent, a statistical tie. Marist surveyed 556 likely Democratic voters Sept. 3-6. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
With Dan Rivoli
and Ivan Pereira