MIDTOWN — Mayor Bill de Blasio said he took full responsibility for a joke about "colored people time" that he made during a skit with Hillary Clinton at an annual fundraiser this weekend but said that reaction was being blown out of proportion.
"It was a satire show. I take full responsibility for the script, happily. I personally signed off on it," de Blasio said after speaking at Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network convention.
"Everyone involved saw it for what it was. In the context of a satire we were making fun of a figure of speech and then twisting it in a subversive way to a humorous end. It was a satire. It was straightforward," the mayor added.
During the Inner Circle Show, a black-tie political roast that brings together journalists, politicians and lobbyists, Clinton said that de Blasio took a long-time to endorse her candidacy last year.
The mayor responded: "I was running on C.P. time," a reference to the stereotype that African-Americans are often running late.
Clinton responded: "Cautious politician time. I've been there," after another actor in the skit, a performer in the Broadway show Hamilton, jokingly objected to the mayor using the term.
De Blasio faced criticism over using the term, which is normally only used by African-Americans themselves.
The mayor is married to a black woman, Chirlane McCray, and has two children who are usually referred to as African-American.
Asked if he felt comfortable making the joke because he has a black wife and black children, de Blasio said no.
"Suffice it to say I have a long experience with the community and it is a phrase that is used by some people derisively, by some people humorously. But the bottom line is we were putting it in the context of a skit. And the whole notion was to say: 'Here's this phrase and then switch to the other direction and make fun of me," said de Blasio who faced criticism early in his term for running late to events.
"My wife is a part of everything I do. She is as proud as she could possibly be of who she is. She saw nothing offensive about it in the context of a satire, especially," the mayor added.
Clinton, who is vying for the support of black voters, distanced herself from the skit.
"Well, look, it was Mayor de Blasio's skit. He has addressed it, and I will really defer to him because it is something that he's already talked about," Clinton told Cosmopolitan.
Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University, said the joke was in poor taste and that de Blasio should just apologize.
"Here's the thing with satire, if someone feels offended and you meant it as a joke, that's not the time for you to double time and say 'It's satire,' that's the time for you to apologize," Greer said. "That's when you say it wasn't meant in offense but it was taken in offense."
Most of the audience didn't get the joke, Greer said, and it could hurt the mayor's standing with African-Americans.
"The mayor is thoughtful when it comes to race. He's been on it and positive in a way we haven't seen from a mayor in this city in the last 20 years," said Greer. "But even though you are not seen as Rudy Giuliani, that shouldn't make you think you can make that joke. Don't get too comfortable. You are not the second black mayor of New York City."
De Blasio has received support from Sharpton and the city's first black mayor David Dinkins over the remarks.
"He was sitting there, the first black mayor of New York City," de Blasio said. "He didn't see anything offensive about it."
Sharpton joked about it at the convention where de Blasio was a speaker.
"Just don't even talk about race for a while," Sharpton said.