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Bill de Blasio says Hillary Clinton had to learn to campaign

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reaches for a

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reaches for a falling balloon at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, July 28, 2016, in Philadelphia. Photo Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — Hillary Clinton’s onetime campaign manager — said his ex-boss “was not as strong as she needed to be” during past campaigns “but she’s gotten much better.”

Speaking the morning after “staying out very, very late” and drinking “a lot beer” to celebrate Clinton’s formal nomination for president, de Blasio said Clinton “has evolved so deeply.”

De Blasio, who managed Clinton’s successful 2000 race for U.S. Senate in New York, said Clinton’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination — the first woman from a major party to do so — “was fantastic.”

“In 2000, she really had trouble as a first-time candidate asking people for their vote, asking them to be part of it,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer during his weekly radio program. “I think there was a sort of a modesty about her that she did not feel it was comfortable to ask people to do something for her.”

De Blasio said Clinton “has had an ambivalent relationship with being the front person and being the voice” and is “still grappling with that.”

De Blasio called into the Manhattan-based radio program from Philadelphia, where he attended the Democratic National Convention. Clinton ran in 2008 for the Democratic presidential nomination, but lost to Barack Obama.

Despite their long relationship, de Blasio held off for six months in backing Clinton and endorsed her months after most of the New York Democratic establishment had done so. The Village Voice reported that de Blasio had been strongly considering endorsing Clinton rival Bernie Sanders and had to be convinced not to.

Also during Friday’s show, de Blasio shrugged off his off-hours assigned speaking spot at the convention this week — 5:30 p.m. — when the hall was mostly empty. His mayoral predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, got a prime-time slot, and de Blasio rival Andrew Cuomo spoke hours before Clinton did.

“You know on the time slot — I just don’t worry about that,” de Blasio told Lehrer.

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