Jessica Gould covers politics and public finance for WNYC.
Health Care Gets Heated at Candidates' Press Conferences
Monday, August 19, 2013
The mayoral campaigns of Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio held tense, competing rallies outside the old St. Vincent's hospital site. The two camps slashed at each other's records — and it got physical when a de Blasio supporter slapped two Quinn supporters.
On one corner, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stood surrounded by Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon and Harry Belafonte. He said Speaker Christine Quinn could have prevented St. Vincent's from being shut down and transformed into condos, but she didn't.
"I would ask her why she didn't succeed. Why the mayor she supported didn't intervene. Why she lost this hospital," he said.
But on the opposite corner and just a few minutes before, Quinn supporters held a press conference of their own. Former State Senator Tom Duane accused de Blasio of having "a complete and utter lack of record, and "playing politics with struggling hospitals."
Feelings ran so high that George Capsis, publisher of the community newspaper WestView News, slapped State Senator Brad Hoylman and a Quinn volunteer.
"I was angry that Hoylman and Duane stole the cameras from de Blasio to push Quinn," Capsis said in an interview with WNYC. He called it a "cheap political trick."
Following the incident, De Blasio called for civility. "I want to emphasize we have to be respectful, of course always peaceful in expressing our views," he said.