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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Something off-center about Hillary Clinton-Bill de Blasio drama

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left,

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, attend a roundtable discussion held by Univision between parents of elementary school children and politicians regarding language learning and preschool on February 4, 2014 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's far-from-exotic decision to forgo endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton the moment she announced for president was worth noting only for the frenzy of anxious scolding and private consternation it aroused in Democratic circles.

Clinton still lacks primary opponents. Even some Democrats amenable to her high ambitions don't want what may be her eventual nomination to resemble a coronation -- which seems to fit de Blasio's thinking. Everyone expects she will need at some point to take positions on such issues as minimum wage and trade agreements.

De Blasio directed Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign and worked for former President Bill Clinton, who with his spouse prominently attended the mayoral inauguration last year. In December, appointment records showed, de Blasio met with Hillary at her office.

Less than three weeks ago, de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, joined Clinton in a warm-and-fuzzy pre-campaign photo-op in Brownsville, Brooklyn, centered on child development. According to de Blasio's camp, the Clinton camp knew in advance of his appearance April 12 on Meet the Press.

It is difficult to see how his statements a year-and-a-half before the presidential election have impact. "I think she's one of the most qualified people to ever run for this office and, by the way, thoroughly vetted," he said on NBC. "Like a lot of people in this country, I want to see a vision."

Other big party fixtures in New York immediately endorsed her, including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) -- who put his own Clinton loyalty on display by saying de Blasio "should have his head examined."

But de Blasio's representing himself as an advocate of progressive issues beyond New York doesn't qualify as a crazed rebellion or "stab in the back."

Others said what de Blasio did was not so much disloyal as clumsy -- that he "stepped on" her message the day she was announcing and "overshadowed" her by showing up in Iowa.

Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party, which has urged Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run, awaits Clinton defining her positions too, saying the election creates a chance to debate the nation's future. De Blasio last year urged the minor party to cross-endorse Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. It did, to some WFP leaders' later regret.

Cuomo has endorsed Clinton. Neither that nor de Blasio's speeches on the income gap in Iowa and Nebraska is likely to determine the presidency next year.

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