Eric Adams has called his GOP opponent in the NYC mayoral race a "clown" for much of the campaign, saying that he won't be distracted by Curtis Sliwa's frequent attention-seeking attacks — but on Tuesday, he very nearly broke his own rule.
Sliwa and Adams, the Democratic nominee, squared off in the final mayoral debate, covering topics such as crime, vaccine mandates and even getting down to candidate composure. While Adams did his best to keep his cool, Sliwa did whatever he could to knock the frontrunner off his game, using a good amount of his precious debate minutes to slam Adams.
The Brooklyn borough president did his best to keep his cool amid the attacks.
"You're acting like my son when he was 4 years old. Show some discipline," Adams said to Sliwa after an interruption.
The two battled over the city's new rule for city workers, that requires them to get vaccinated by Friday or get benched.
"You want to be the mayor of the city of New York, start with discipline," said Adams, who supports the measure, of Sliwa's opposition to it.
"Eric - show compassion, show care. Don't just be a robot. People are going to lose their jobs, their income," Sliwa retorted. "When I'm mayor, I'll hire them back, I'll give them their full pay."
The Guardian Angels founder also made a play for more police votes, bringing up the rioting and looting seen in summer 2020.
"I noticed Mr. Adams was not defending members of the police department who are under attack. Molotov cocktails, graffiti all over the city, eff the police," Sliwa said.
Adams replied that "everyone knows how I stood against violence, my record is clear."
Sliwa also seized on a crime-fighting strategy Adams revealed earlier on Tuesday, where he said during a radio interview that he has met with gang members, saying that "some of them have bodies," referencing killings they have done.
"You haven't even met with the police unions, and you're meeting with gang leaders," Sliwa said.
Adams replied that he has spoken with people who have committed crimes in order to "get them out of gangs."
In a bizarre moment, Sliwa said that City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez is not a U.S. citizen, a false claim that was immediately rebuked as offensive.
There was also one nicer exchange, when the two candidates were asked to compliment something the other does that they admire. Adams complimented Sliwa's work with all of the cats he has adopted over the years, while the Republican commended Adams on his promotion of a vegan lifestyle "to avoid serious medical issues."
Toward the end of the debate, both candidates were asked to give Mayor Bill de Blasio a grade for his work in office. While Sliwa unsurprisingly gave him an F, Adams said he would give a B+, something that polls suggest is out of step with how voters feel about the mayor. Adams said that de Blasio deserves credit for creating free pre-K and giving ID cards to undocumented New Yorkers.