The final mayoral debate between Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and his main rival, conservative activist Curtis Sliwa, went straight into the gutter Tuesday night after a series of contentious exchanges turned sharply personal between the two men.
The nastiness broke out about one quarter of the way through the hour-long forum — which aired on WABC/Ch. 7 and Univision-41 — after Sliwa, the Republican nominee, repeatedly interrupted Adams’ answers on questions about crime and schools.
“You want to be the mayor of the City of New York? Start with discipline,” a frustrated Adams fired back at one point.
So the stage was set when one of the moderators — ABC-7’s Dave Evans — asked Sliwa what he made of Adams repeatedly mocking him as a “clown” and why voters should trust him with running the city considering his past admissions that he faked reports of a kidnapping and robbery to gain headlines for his neighborhood patrol group, the Guardian Angels.
“He calls me a clown, I guess I’m Pagliacci,” Sliwa began, referencing the classic opera.
“Did I make mistakes early on? Yes, and I’ve apologized,” the ex-talk show host continued, before quickly pivoting right back to Adams — and a slew of press reports that have raised questions about the Democratic nominee’s residence and exposed inaccuracies in his tax returns.
“But talking about faking, you fake where you live Eric Adams! We still don’t know where you live; you live in Jersey, most people people say,” he added. “And then you blame a homeless person for your accounting problems with the IRS.”
“I hope you don’t appoint him, if you get elected, the budget director for the City of New York,” the GOP nominee continued. “I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t just take responsibility. Man up, Eric!”
Adams fired right back.
“This is an example of the clown-like actions,” the BP responded, using a line he’s tried out as the race has entered its closing days. “We’re not his circus, New Yorkers.”
“He faked a kidnapping, he faked a robbery,” Adams continued, before digging into Sliwa’s own history of personal legal troubles — including charges from Sliwa’s ex, Mary, that he failed to pay child support.
“He hid money so he wouldn’t have to pay child support,” Adams concluded.
That appeared to set off Sliwa, who shot back: “How dare you bring my family into this! I haven’t at all brought your family into your problems.”