NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed Hillary Clinton for president Friday morning, ending a strange saga where he refused to endorse the candidate who most experts believed he would eventually support.
And Clinton buried that endorsement in a press release that announced she'd been backed by 87 mayors across the country.
"The candidate who I believe can fundamentally address income inequality effectively, the candidate who has the right vision and the right experience and the ability to get the job done, is Hillary Clinton," de Blasio said on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe."
The mayor had declined to endorse Clinton, for whom he worked as Senate campaign manager in 2000, even as other prominent state Democrats such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito endorsed the former New York senator and secretary of state and began campaigning on her behalf.
The mayor's initial non-endorsement came on the NBC national news show "Meet The Press" on the same day Clinton unveiled the long-expected news that she would run for president. The timing of the mayor's announcement drew the ire of Clinton supporters who accused de Blasio of grandstanding.
De Blasio said repeatedly that he wanted to wait and see Clinton's platform to address income inequality, an issue that the mayor has made the centerpiece of his administration and has pushed for to be part of the national debate this election season with the launch of a progressive group focused on the issue.
The group is expected to hold a presidential forum on income inequality in Iowa next month.
"I've seen her vision and platform develop over five months, I'm extremely pleased with what she's put on the table," de Blasio said in explaining the delay. "I think it was also very fair for people all over this country to say wait, we need to see a vision for these times that's going to achieve the changes we need."
Clinton's campaign put out a press release announcing that she had received the support of 87 mayors across the country.
"As president, I will fight alongside mayors to rebuild and modernize our infrastructure, get middle class incomes rising, and address the epidemic of gun violence," Clinton said in the release.
The press release made no special mention of de Blasio's endorsement. The mayor's quote praising Clinton is situated after remarks from the mayors of Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.
New York City has more population than all three of those cities combined.
In his quote, de Blasio said that Clinton had laid out a "bold vision for tackling income inequality."
Kenneth Sherrill, professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College, called the mayor's position on endorsing Clinton a "blunder on a national scale" that's going to be hard to live down.
"It's not at all clear whether he or any cause that he believed in benefited from his posturing on this," said Sherrill. "De Blasio's trying to make lemonade out of it now, but few people will remember that he endorsed Clinton while many will remember how he endorsed her."