Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams once again distanced himself from his party’s left-leaning flank, declaring the United States is not a “socialist country.”
Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, made the remarks during an appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher” Friday night, after he was asked by Maher to clarify what he meant at a fundraiser last Monday when he reportedly said he’s running against “a movement.”
Adams, a retired NYPD captain, began with saying the criticisms toward law enforcement and public safety will slow down prosperity across the country. He also said that if wealthier New Yorkers are further demonized for being rich, it might cause them to leave the state, which will then mean the loss of taxpayer-funded jobs.
“This is not a socialist country; let’s be clear on that,” Adams, a vegan who also appeared on the show to plug his book on healthy eating, said. “This is a country that believes: give people the opportunities and they will be able to exceed and excel in this country. And I believe in that is because that’s what I saw in my personal journey and the journey of so many people who come to this country.”
Adams’ comments came several days after the New York Post published a video it obtained showing him lambasting Democratic socialists during a fundraiser organized by Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In the video, Adams is seen declaring he isn’t running against candidates in league with the Democratic Socialists of America. The group has called for single-payer Medicare, defunding the police, and a Green New Deal.
“I’m running against a movement,” Adams is seen saying in the video. “All across the country, the [Democrat Socialists of America] are mobilizing to stop Eric Adams. They realize that if I’m successful then we’ll start the process of regaining controls [sic] of our city.”
The remarks generated criticism from his party’s colleagues, including Brooklyn/Queens Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who reportedly admonished Adams at a meeting with New York’s congressional delegation days after the fundraiser. He told Adams it’s important Democrats treat each other with respect, according to the New York Times. The report said Bronx/Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist who was not specifically called out by Adams at the fundraiser despite critics assertions he was talking about her, had attended the meeting. She told the paper, “It is always a good idea for any mayor to respect all of the members that are responsible for representing the delegation…”
Adams’ views, however, haven’t been wholly embraced by New York’s Democratic electorate, as he won by more than 7,000, or just under 1% of the votes, than second place finisher, Kathryn Garcia, following ranked-choice voting.
Even so, with more registered Democrats in the city over Republicans, Adams is likely to win the November general election over Republican challenger Curtis Sliwa. His political views could put him at odds with a more progressive New York City Council, in which three likely new members were backed by the Democratic Socialists of America New York City chapter.
A spokesperson for Adams told Gothamist/WNYC, “Eric knows the City Council will be a vital partner and he’s looking forward to working with all members new and old on issues critical to New Yorkers regardless of political philosophy.”