Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the campaign of Bill de Blasio, the front-runner among Democrats vying to succeed him, as "class-warfare and racist" in interviews with New York magazine that caused an uproar Saturday upon their publication.
The lame-duck mayor took note of de Blasio's theme that New York is "a tale of two cities" -- rich and poor -- as well as the prominence of de Blasio's biracial family in his campaign and its ads.
The magazine's website Saturday night added a previously omitted portion of the interviews that showed Bloomberg tried to walk back his "racist" comment, but not his broader critique.
When an interviewer remarked that de Blasio was running a "class-warfare campaign," Bloomberg interjected: "Class-warfare and racist."
"Racist?" asked the interviewer.
"Well, no, no, I mean he's making an appeal using his family to gain support," Bloomberg said. "I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching what he's been doing. I do not think he himself is racist. It's comparable to me pointing out I'm Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote."
De Blasio, who has been leading in polls for Tuesday's Democratic primary, pushed back. Bloomberg's comments were also criticized by de Blasio's top rivals, including Christine Quinn, whom Bloomberg praised to the magazine for doing "a very good job" as City Council speaker.
"I hope the mayor will reconsider what he said," de Blasio, the city's public advocate, said at a campaign stop in Brooklyn Saturday. "I hope he'll realize that it was inappropriate. And I think people in this city are ready for us to move forward together."
Campaigning alongside him, de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, bristled at the notion that she was a prop. "Do I look like an inanimate object or a tool? I walk, I talk, I make my own decisions," she said.
Daughter Chiara, 19, said her dad "did not seek to marry a black woman to put her on display."
Quinn called Bloomberg's remarks "extremely unfortunate" and said, "I totally disagree."
Ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson tweeted, "Bloomberg's comments are outrageous. We are all proud of our families, and we should be."
Through much of the interview, Bloomberg defended making the city attractive to the wealthy, saying their tax dollars support services for the less fortunate.
De Blasio called Bloomberg out of touch and speaking from the "perspective of billionaires." De Blasio said his proposals, including one to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund school programs, are "for the good of the city as a whole."
Bloomberg said The New York Times got it "right" when it endorsed Quinn and Republican candidate Joe Lhota as its picks for the primaries. The mayor's comments were published in a question-and-answer article taken from conversations condensed and edited by New York magazine from interviews on Aug. 6, Aug. 26 and Sept. 4.
Quinn, who supported Bloomberg's push for term-limit extensions, has been hurt during the campaign by attacks calling her a Bloomberg ally.
She said she couldn't "agree more" with his approval of the Times' endorsement. She then cited a passage in the editorial that described her as "a forceful counterpart" to the mayor.