New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has described himself in the past as a "Democratic socialist," but he avoided the word in a Wednesday night appearance on "The Colbert Report."
Host Stephen Colbert, in his faux conservative character, opened the show touting the interview and playing clips of various Fox News personalities calling the mayor a "European socialist," the city's "leading leftist" and "comrade."
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When Colbert asked de Blasio about his vision for the city, he answered, "It's a progressive vision. It's an inclusive vision. It's creating a city of opportunity again."
"You mean socialist. Progressive means socialist," Colbert said.
"Progressive means creating opportunities," de Blasio answered.
"You are a socialist or not a socialist, sir?" Colbert insisted.
De Blasio laughed, going along with the joke. But he didn't laugh when Colbert pointed out that he had raised money
for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s. At the time, the Reagan administration labeled President Daniel Ortega's party "communist."
"You're a socialist. You're a communist," Colbert said.
De Blasio, striking a serious tone, replied, "You know, Stephen, in this country today, with vast income inequality and growing income inequality we actually have to change our course."
The mayor went on to talk about his plans to create jobs, higher wages and benefits, paid sick leave and free pre-kindergarten and said that "government can make sure there's fairness in our society."
He also discussed his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.
"Staying for a third term was a huge mistake. It was very undemocratic. He used his wealth to achieve it," de Blasio said. "But in office he did some very good things for public health. He did some good things in terms of making us a more environmentally sustainable city. He did some good investments in education. But in the end he did not address income inequality. He did not address stop-and-frisk."
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