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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appears Live on MSNBC's Morning Joe

November 2, 2021

Mika Brzezinski: But first the race for mayor of New York City. Democrat, Eric Adams squares off with Republican, Curtis Sliwa, to replace outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

Joe Scarborough: That dude’s got cats. 

Brzezinski: He’s got a lot of cats, Curtis Sliwa. 

Scarborough: A lot of cats. 

Brzezinski: Okay. But Mayor Bill de Blasio joins us now and he's – man, he is working on getting rid of this virus in New York City. 

Scarborough: Finishing strong.  

Brzezinski: Finishing strong – 

Scarborough: Finishing the marathon strong. Let me ask you, though, Mr. Mayor, if these people whose job it is to defend and protect and serve the people of New York City are not doing their jobs and they're putting the lives of New Yorkers and Americans at risk, shouldn't they just be fired? 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Hey, Joe, let me tell you these vaccine mandates work. Let me just give you the update and we have breaking news for you. We put a mandate in place on October 20th, and as of today, 92 percent of the New York City workforce is vaccinated. Breaking news, new numbers this morning, 92 percent.  

Scarborough: That’s great.  

Mayor: So, the bottom line is when you say for the health of your family, everyone you work with, everyone you serve, your whole community, you got to get vaccinated, no exceptions, no compromise, just get vaccinated, it makes an amazing impact. People respond to that. And here's my message – every mayor in America, every governor in America, every CEO of a business in America, put a vaccine mandate in place and you will make all of us safer and you will help us end the COVID era once and for all. This is what it's about. End it, stop living this way. Vaccines are what do it. So, Joe, to your question, if someone doesn't – we're giving people a chance to recognize the science, recognize what's healthy and right, if they don't get vaccinated, they don't get paid. That's how we're doing it. And a lot of people are waking up and saying, wait a minute, I need that paycheck, and they’re coming in. 2,000 more vaccinations in the last 24 hours – past the deadline, 2,000 more vaccinations, because people realized they weren't getting paid and now they're coming back. 

Scarborough: Are you disappointed by some union officials who are actually basically saying the hell with the 80 percent, the hell with 85 percent of the people who were playing by the rules, who were doing the right thing, who were protecting and serving New Yorkers and Americans, and they seem to be focusing too much on the small number of people within their force who are basically saying the hell with everybody's health, including mine and my family's? 

Mayor: Yeah, Joe, I'm entirely frustrated. I got to tell you, first of all, in this city, the most opinionated place on earth, 86 percent of New York City adults have now gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. It's one of the only things New Yorkers can agree on at this point. And that's a stunning, super majority, 86 percent of adults. So, the people have spoken, people have decided they support these mandates, they want to move forward. In fact, even in the workforce, overwhelming majorities in our agency, the NYPD has now hit 85 percent. So, there's a few very, in my view, not only angry, but wrongheaded folks spreading wise, spreading misinformation, and are endangering, actually, their colleagues. They're endangering their fellow New Yorkers. And, yeah, some of these unions are doing exactly the wrong thing. There are some union leaders have stepped up in recent days and said, okay guys, the law is the law, this went to court, it was decided, it's time to get vaccinated. Some union leaders have done the right thing. I want to give them credit. But several unions have been, in my view, downright unpatriotic, the way they've handled this because they have put their own internal politics ahead of the needs of the people. And by the way we've got some firefighters who are faking sick leave the last couple of days, saying they're sick when they're not, and leaving their fellow firefighters in a lurch and creating a danger for all New Yorkers. That is unconscionable, and I assure you, they're going to experience some consequences for what they've done. 

Scarborough: Well, you know, and it reveals who they are. You don't want those people on your workforce anyway. The good people of New York City, the good Americans who depend on them to do their jobs, to protect and serve, they need to. Mika, you and I were talking the other day about after we went over five million worldwide, I just said, hey, I want to see how things are going, let’s check the trend lines out. Fortunately, they're down in states like Florida, they're down in other states, they’re down in the United States overall. But you look at New York City – 

Brzezinski: Exactly. 

Scarborough: You look at New York City's numbers. I thought when I was looking at the numbers that there was an error there because the numbers were so low. Compared to other states, the numbers were so low, and Mika, that's exactly what the Mayor is saying, you want evidence that vaccines work look no further than New York City's numbers on infections, new infections and deaths, so much lower than most states. 

Brzezinski: And, Mayor de Blasio, when you say vaccine mandates work, and not only are people getting the vaccine, but it's these numbers in terms of COVID that are showing that the vaccine mandates work. I mean, I wish that you could, you know, put that on all the billboards on Times Square, this science, where these numbers are drastically decreasing. 

Mayor: You know, Mika, it's really about freedom. I want to use a word that gets used in different ways, but I want to make it real simple. It's about freedom. I fought to make sure that we would be able to vaccinate every New Yorker. And what we're finding now is as more and more New Yorkers get vaccinated, we are going back to the lives we loved it. You're seeing the outdoor dining in New York City. It's joyous. People are out. This city is active and alive again. Halloween was beautiful. There were trick-or-treaters all over New York City and life felt like it was moving forward. But that's because we have that high level of vaccination that's given us the freedom. And you know what, sometimes you got to use a muscular approach to help make sure that things go right. These mandates. I am telling you, if any – anybody out there listening, a CEO or a public leader, just do it because, yeah, there's a lot of noise in the beginning, but people respond to deadlines, people respond to a firm, tough decision. I guarantee you people don't like to lose their paycheck and you say, get vaccinated or no paycheck, that'll get some people moving quickly. And the proof is in the pudding. It happened with lightning speed in this city, and now it's made us safer. And now things are coming back to life. We got to end the COVID era. We got to end it once and for all.  

Willie Geist: Mr. Mayor, you said yesterday that only six percent of the City employees are out on unpaid leave right now. There's been a lot of focus on them and concerns about whether fires will be put out, whether garbage will pile up on the streets. But if you have 94 percent of public workers, it seems like the city can get through this. Do you have concerns though, about public safety because of these walkouts and these sick leaves? 

Mayor: I got to tell you, Willie, I want to commend the City workers who are doing the right thing, and I'm going to answer your question, but Willie, I also have to give you some really important advice this crucial week for you. I want you to focus on something, Willie, carbo-loading carbo-loading, as you prepare – 

Scarborough: Yes – 

Mayor: [Inaudible] – 

Geist: [Inaudible] Italian joint around the corner.  

Mayor: Carbo-loading mandate. Okay, Willie, this is a mandate from the City of New York for you specifically, a lot of pasta. Okay. Get ready for this marathon because I don't want you getting partway through and there's just no energy there. Okay. 

Geist: Can you imagine after all this talk and all this hype if I only made it halfway through. I'm going to get to, I'm going to – trust me, there's enough spaghetti in this city to get me through this race. 

Mayor: We’re going to have an NYPD vehicle that picks you up if you start to falter and that brings you to the finish line – 


And then you can break the tape. Okay? We're going to be ready for [inaudible] – 

Geist: I worry I may need it.  

Mayor: But I got to tell you, to your question, Willie, the vast majority of our public servants have done the right thing. I want to commend the good folks. I want to commend our public employees who got vaccinated, are protecting their fellow New Yorkers. My job is to protect people's health and safety. And I've turned to public employees, I said, help us lead the way out of COVID. And the vast majority are doing it. For the ones who aren't doing it, they're not going to get paid. And if they are leaving their colleagues in the lurch, if they're making it less safe because they didn't show up, they're going to suffer some real consequences. But the good news is the vast majority of workers did show up. They're making it work. All our firehouses are open. Our response times are good because we have a lot of public employees who are stepping up, doing the right thing. And we have great leaders in all our uniform service agencies that have made sure that people are safe. And in the end, this is another point. You're going to hear anyone, anybody out there, again, a mayor, governor, CEO if you're thinking about a mandate, you're going to hear people tell you the sky will fall. Every time I put a mandate in place for our restaurants, for our school system, biggest school system in the country, now for all our employees, it works every single time and it made us safer. Now we need the whole country to do this so we can move forward. 

Eugene Robinson: Mr. Mayor, this is Gene Robinson. There's a little election going on in your city. Who's going to win? Who's going to be the next mayor, and will the next mayor continue your tough policies on COVID and continue your freedom policies on COVID? 

Mayor: Well, Eugene, if we had the music go off right now, I'd say we have an MSNBC projection that Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City, this just in. Eric Adams has run a great, great campaign, but more importantly, he's a great person – spent over 20 years defending the people of this city as a police officer out on patrol, but also has been a leading voice for civil rights, for equity. I think he's going to be a great mayor. I've worked with him over years. He's a Brooklynite. I'm proud of that. I'm a Brooklynite too, and Brooklyn is going to continue to lead this city. But I'll tell you he's been great on the fight against COVID. He has been a strong voice in favor of making sure that people get vaccinated. And I think he has a real inner strength humanly, and also because of the work he's done. And I'm looking forward to this handoff because I think he'll be able to take the things we've done in this city – I'm very proud of pre-K for all our kids, now 3-K, I'm very proud we've built a lot of affordable housing, I'm very proud of the changes and reforms we've made in policing. I think he'll be able to take it to the next level. 

Jonathan Lemire: So, Mr. Mayor, polls tonight close at nine o'clock. At 9:01PM, you're going to be a lame duck because Eric Adams will be likely projected as the next mayor of New York City. So, what's next for you? A few days ago, you filed paperwork with the New York State Board of Elections that allows you to begin fundraising for a statewide campaign, yet-announced, and deemed the New Yorkers for a Fair Future, I believe. There is – of course, a few candidates have already jumped into the next year's governor's race. Are you going to do the same? 

Mayor: Jonathan, let me put it this way. I want to continue in public service and there's a lot that needs to be fixed in Albany. There's a lot that needs to be changed in the State of New York. I think anybody who's watching, and even from around the country over these last years, has seen dysfunction in our State Capitol, has seen scandal. This State has fallen behind in some ways that we really must address. I'm very proud that I've put a very progressive, but also aggressive policies in place in New York City that made a difference – and, obviously, what we're talking about today, the vaccine mandates a great example of that. So, I look forward to being part of the discussion of where our state needs to go in the future. I'll tell you more about the politics a little bit down the line, but I got to tell you I'm excited and I'm energized to get out there and continue to serve. 

Lemire: Well, Governor Hochul – I said, of course, she will be running again, she and Eric Adams, we believe our future mayor here in New York City, in a very different relationship than the one that you had – and Hochul’s predecessor – Andrew Cuomo. 

Mayor: Breaking news again, Jonathan. That is true.  

Lemire: I'm working, I'm working in understatement [inaudible] 


So, give us a sense – how different will that be for assuming Mayor Adams and what does that mean for New Yorkers?  

Mayor: It means for New Yorkers that more can get done for the people. I had to fight Andrew Cuomo over things I should never have had to fight him over. I just – if I woke up in the morning and I said the sky was blue, he'd try and find a different color, and it just didn't have to be that way. It's painful to think back on all that, but the good news is we're experiencing some normalcy now where when the mayor of New York City, the largest city in the country, 43 percent of the state's population says, ‘Hey, we need some help on an issue,’ a governor should be saying, great, let's work together, let's figure it out. I said, I wanted to do these vaccine mandates, Kathy Hochul, to her credit, our governor, has said, localities, do what you think is best. You know, I had to fight Andrew Cuomo, I'll remind you, in terms of our first responders. He would not allow first responders to get vaccinated when vaccines were first available. He had a different set of priorities. I started a campaign called Freedom to Vaccinate. I had to fight him for the right to make sure NYPD officers and firefighters and EMTs could get vaccinated. Instead of saying, “Hey, you, you know, what's best for your city,” everything was a fight. Now I hope for Eric Adams, and I believe, with this governor in the next year, and then whatever the result of the gubernatorial election, he's going to be dealing with a governor who's actually trying to help him get something done rather than standing in the way each time. And that's good for the people. 

Brzezinski: Mayor Bill de Blasio, always great to have you on Morning Joe. Thanks. 

Scarborough: And really, thank you so much for your training advice. Carbo-loading for Willie. I think he had been looking at another direction, had been calling Lance Armstrong over the past couple of weeks. Carbo-load instead, Willie. Heaps and piles of mashed potatoes, right?  

Mayor: Willie, there should pasta right now in front of you that you're eating during the show. I'm confused. If you're serious about tomorrow [inaudible] – 

Willie Geist: [Inaudible] right over here. 

Brzezinski: [Inaudible] be fine – 

Mayor: Willie, thank you for what you're doing, and God bless you. And thank you for doing this on behalf of your dad. I really want to say on behalf of New York City, we really appreciate you.  

Geist: Thanks, Mr. Mayor. That means a lot. I'll see you out there Sunday.  

Brzezinski: Thank you, Mayor de Blasio.  


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