For Thompson, debate is chance to go on offense
For city Comptroller Bill Thompson, outspent and trailing in the polls, the best strategy for Tuesday's mayoral debate may be to knock Mayor Michael Bloomberg out of his comfort zone, experts said.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg, who portrays himself as a good manager with a steady hand, will likely adopt the so-called Rose Garden strategy: Statesmanlike and above the fray.
The mayor “doesn’t want to let anything rattle him or cause him to lose his temper,” said Michael Krasner, a political science professor at Queens College.
As for Thompson, “he has to try to bring Bloomberg down from his perch and try to undermine his reputation,” Krasner said.
Though the campaigns have become increasingly nasty, Tuesday night will be the first time the candidates face off directly.
Joe Mercurio, a Democratic consultant who is not working on the Thompson campaign, said the comptroller should focus on taxes and fees, many of which have gone up during Bloomberg’s tenure; the mayor should emphasize education and public safety, for which he gets high marks from voters.
Both candidates said Monday they want to focus on issues, not style.
“It isn’t so much a debate as it is an opportunity to see two candidates side by side talking about their records and their vision for the future,” Bloomberg said of the debate.
Thompson deflected a question about his planned approach.
“It’s a question of staying on the issues,” he said. “I don’t think New Yorkers want to see the two of us fighting with each other."