Andrew Yang addresses criticism over apartment remarks amid NYC mayor run

The former presidential candidate spoke about his mayoral run with "The View."

January 19, 2021, 3:24 PM

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who is running for New York City mayor, appeared Tuesday on "The View" and responded to criticism about a comment he made surrounding his living situation in Manhattan.

Like many New Yorkers, Yang, his wife and their two young sons have not remained in the city full-time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

In a Jan. 11 interview with the New York Times, Yang detailed his experience balancing working from home at the same time of his children’s virtual schooling while living in America's largest city amid the global pandemic.

“We’ve spent more time upstate than in the city over the last number of months, but I also spent time in Georgia, as you know, I spent time in Pennsylvania campaigning for Joe and Kamala,” he said to the New York Times.

“We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan," he continued. "And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?”

Yang later faced backlash over his remarks, which some saw as tone-deaf because many families throughout NYC's five boroughs cope with similar or worse situations.

Tuesday on "The View," co-host and native New Yorker Sunny Hostin told Yang that for many New Yorkers, the experience he conveyed "is exactly what they had to deal with" and "many families don't even have that much space."

In his response, Yang said his remark "does seem tone-deaf" but was ultimately "taken out of context," adding that the quote looks "much different in isolation."

PHOTO: Andrew Yang joins "The View" to discuss his run for New York City Mayor on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2020.
Andrew Yang joins "The View" to discuss his run for New York City Mayor on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2020.
ABC News

"Most New Yorkers know that I spent most of the pandemic either campaigning for Joe and Kamala to try and get Trump out or in Georgia helping Rev. [Raphael] Warnock and Jon Ossoff win," Yang continued. Boasting about Georgia's Democratic wins in the runoff election, he called it "tremendous for New York" because of Sen. Chuck Schumer's rise to Senate majority leader.

"We're gonna get tens of billions of dollars in aid for the people in New York City and New York state and around the country," Yang said. "I was doing what I could at that time, and I'm actually really, really excited about what we got done."

Noting Yang's success, Hostin also pointed out that he's never held political office and pressed him about never casting a vote in any of New York City's mayoral elections.

"I certainly would count myself among about 87% of New Yorkers who had not voted in local elections because many of us took the city's government for granted," Yang said. "Those were during the good times and right now ... we're in the midst of a historic crisis."

Co-host Joy Behar responded to Yang, saying, "You know, Andrew, just to the -- with your answer, I think people need to vote in the good times and the bad times. I'm hoping going forward, you'll be voting in the good times, too. Are you going to?"

"For sure," Yang said. "I agree the folks who have been engaged, all the credit to them. And the fact is more of us need to follow in their lead."

Yang's run to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio began right before Christmas when he filled out paperwork with the New York City Campaign Finance Board indicating he had formed a mayoral campaign committee, Yang for New York, Inc. On Jan. 13, he formally announced his run for NYC mayor on Twitter.

"I moved to New York City 25 years ago. I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. Seeing our City in so much pain breaks my heart," he wrote in his tweet. "Let’s fight for a future New York City that we can be proud of – together."

Co-host Meghan McCain asked Yang about de Blasio's success as NYC mayor. "You're running to succeed the absolute dumpster garbage fire that is Bill de Blasio. To say he's been a polarizing mayor is putting it lightly," she said, adding that expressing disappointment in de Blasio is "the one thing that's always safe for conservatives and liberals to talk about."

"Why do you think he's done such a terrible job?" McCain asked. "What can you do to fix the absolute mess that is New York City right now?"

Yang said on "The View" that de Blasio was "dealt a very, very tough hand."

"There are real problems here in New York City," Yang said. "When I talked to New Yorkers, they say they don't feel as safe as they did a number of months ago. It's a real issue and it's real. You know, we have to get businesses reopened in part because it's going to end up stimulating environments, where folks will feel like when they're walking down that street, the lights are on, people are there."

"That's the kind of environment that we need to restore here in New York," he added.

A survey from Public Policy Polling on Dec. 23 found Yang was the top choice among potential Democratic mayoral candidates in New York City. When potential voters were asked who they would vote for, 17% chose Yang. Eric Adams, the borough president of Brooklyn, scored 16% of support.

Every episode of ABC's award-winning talk show "The View" is now available as a podcast! Listen and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher or the ABC News app.

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