New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced to apologize for citing Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara Thursday after he quoted the guerrilla leader to pump up a crowd of union members in Miami.
De Blasio was captured on video yelling the phrase, “Hasta la victoria, siempre!” which translates to mean “Until victory, always!”
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“We will be with you every step of the way,” he added as he spoke to a crowd of striking airport workers.
De Blasio tweeted out an apology less than one hour after CBS4 Miami posted the video, and said he did not mean to offend anyone “who heard it that way.” He also admitted to not knowing the history behind Guevara and offered up a mea culpa for his ignorance.
De Blasio also apologized on camera for his remarks in the debate spin room and said he was only trying to encourage the embattled workers. He said he takes “full responsibility” for his mistake but predicted most voters would move on and not hold it against him.
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“It was an honest mistake. I apologized for it. I understood it just to be a Spanish-language phrase,” he said. “I used it not knowing that was the origin. When I heard it was the origin I apologized immediately. Did not mean to offend anybody. I was telling those airport workers — I thought they were going to win their strike in the end. They responded energetically because it was simply a matter of encouraging them.”
But look as a leader you have to be able to apologize when you make a mistake. And even though I didn’t know the origin I still have to take responsibility and I say I apologize to anyone offended — didn’t get it. I won’t — not make that mistake again for sure.”
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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., didn’t seem sold on the explanation. He tweeted: “De Blasio studied Latin American politics in college, was a very active supporter of the Sandinistas in #Nicaragua & even honeymooned in #Cuba in violation of U.S. law. But he had NO IDEA he was quoting Che Guevara today. It was all just an incredible coincidence.”
The New York Democrat faced further criticism from Rep. Donna E. Shalala, D-Fla., who called de Blasio’s quote “unacceptable” and said it was especially ironic for him to use it in Miami.
De Blasio also grabbed headlines at Wednesday night’s debate among Democratic presidential candidates when he was one of only two who said they’d be willing to sacrifice their own private health insurance in favor of a government plan. The only candidate to join him was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.