In their last debate, Mayor Michael Bloomberg went after his Democratic opponent with the most force he has shown in the race, accusing Fernando Ferrer of offering empty protests and no problem-solving.
He went after Ferrer on education, economic development, taxes and affordable housing. Ferrer sought to portray the mayor as out of touch with the middle class and failing to make the city livable for average New Yorkers.
The billionaire mayor of this overwhelmingly Democratic town was asked by a questioner why he doesn't just admit he's a Republican by label only, if that's how he wants New Yorkers to think of him.
Bloomberg, a moderate who supports gay marriage and abortion rights, enjoys healthy support from Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by a five to one ratio in New York City. He is leading Ferrer by about 30 percentage points in opinion polls. The election is Nov. 8.
The billionaire mayor has torn through more than $63 million (Ђ52.47 million) of his own money so far to fund his campaign. Ferrer depends on public matching funds and has spent about $7.6 million (Ђ6.33 million).
Bloomberg also was asked about his political contributions, including the $7 million he gave to the group that hosted the 2004 Republican presidential convention in New York City. Ferrer's campaign released a sassy animated ad Monday that showed a cartoonish mayor flashing his money at President George W. Bush as they rode together on the back of a horse.
Bloomberg said the ad was as unimportant as "comic books." He noted that the convention host committee was nonpartisan, and said he would have given similarly if the Democrats held their gathering here.
The candidates even clashed briefly on the Iraq war. Ferrer said if elected he would press the president to pull troops out of Iraq "as soon as possible." Bloomberg said the U.S. should stay until the Iraqi government can maintain peace and democracy, AP reports.