New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is under fire for sharing a racially tinged one-liner with Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last weekend, when he referred to “C.P. time.” Delivered in the context of an Inner Circle skit, the joke came after Clinton chided de Blasio over his taking so long to endorse her.
“Sorry, Hillary, I was running on C.P. time,” de Blasio said. “C.P. time” is shorthand for “colored people’s time,” a reference to the old stereotype that black people are always late. The audience at the event put together by journalists with ties to New York can be heard reacting in seeming discomfort to what would go on to become an even more awkward exchange, made odder by the fact that de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, is African-American.
De Blasio and Clinton were onstage during the Inner Circle dinner with Leslie Odom Jr., an actor in the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton” who quickly stepped in to condemn the mayor’s one-liner. “That’s not — I don’t like jokes like that, Bill,” Odom said at the event, attended not only by New York media people but also by politicians and their staffers. Clinton then stepped in to say: “Cautious politician time. I’ve been there.”
The White House hopeful wasn’t lying. As recently as last week, Clinton was embroiled in another racial flap of sorts when her husband, former President Bill Clinton, admonished people who protested the language she employed 20 years ago when she called incarcerated black people “super-predators.”
“They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators,’” the then-first lady said in 1996. “No conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
That comment has become something of a touchstone for Clinton, and her opponents have pounced on its resurfacing during this election cycle. While Clinton has since apologized for the remark, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders condemned both her words then and her husband’s apparent defense of them now.
“I think we all knew back then what that language meant,” Sanders said on ABC News’ “This Week” Sunday. “That was referring to young blacks. And I don’t think, in this country, elected officials or leaders should be using that type of terminology.”
Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, and Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, are set to debate Thursday in the Brooklyn borough of New York, where de Blasio was a member of the city council before being elected mayor. Clinton enjoys a double-digit percentage lead over Sanders in support ahead of New York’s April 19 presidential primary election, according to the RealClearPolitics averages of all Democratic presidential polling data in the state.