On 'The View,' Bill de Blasio defends Biden attacks during 2nd Democratic debate

de Blasio says debating is crucial to finding out who Democrats are as a party.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on ABC's "The View" Friday morning in part to discuss intense moments during the second Democratic debate this week when he grilled former Vice President Joe Biden on immigration.

"I asked the vice president, point blank: 'Did he use his power to stop the deportations?' He went right around the question," de Blasio said during the debate. "Mr. Vice President, if you want to be president of the United States, you need to be to answer the tough questions. I guarantee you if you are debating Donald Trump he's not going to let you off the hook."

In a rebuttal, Biden explained that his advice to the former president is confidential, adding that comparing Obama and Donald Trump is "bizarre," a word the he echoed the next day to reporters when he explained how surprised he was that Democrats were attacking the 44th president.

When asked why he chose to attack fellow Democrats instead of focusing on Trump, de Blasio told "The View" host Joy Behar that he wanted to have an honest conversation about U.S. immigration policy.

"I was not attacking Obama," de Blasio insisted. "Come on, let's get real. It's questioning whether those deportations made sense and asking a vice president to explain his role in it. Do you think these questions will not come up later? I was challenging Biden because I want to hear him say, ‘Here's what I did,' ‘Here's what I stand for,' because whoever is going to be the Democratic nominee has to be able to do that."

Behar asked whether critical conversations among Democratic candidates should be done in public, to which de Blasio emphasized that rigorous debate is part of the process.

"If we can have this can have this discussion in our family -- and yeah it's a family that happens to be televised -- we then can figure out who we are as Democrats and go into battle ready to win," de Blasio said.

He also discussed his career as New York City mayor, speaking candidly about his approval ratings -- just 42% according in a recent Quinnipiac poll.

"I represent 8.6 million highly opinionated people, and it's probably a great thing to work in a place that puts you through your paces every single day," de Blasio said, before touting his record in New York, including the end of stop-and-frisk policing in 2014, a battle that at times left him at odds with the New York City Police Department.

"Stop-and-frisk was a policy that was really tearing community and police apart. It was creating tension and division," de Blasio told Sunny Hostin, who agreed, adding that the policy mostly affected communities of color.

"A lot of naysayers said, 'Oh, my God, chaos, disorder, it'll go to hell.' What happened was the opposite. We got safer because we brought this community together," de Blasio said.

Despite those gains, tensions again were high among persons of color and the NYPD after the Justice Department recently declined to file federal civil rights charges against the officer largely responsible for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after he was put in an illegal chokehold after he was confronted by police about selling loose cigarettes outside a convenience store.

De Blasio also addressed criticism he faced during New York City's blackout in July, which left 73,000 customers in parts of Manhattan without power for five hours, all while the mayor campaigned in Iowa.

While grilling him on why he did not immediately return to New York during the power outage, Meghan McCain told de Blasio that "optically, it didn't look great" that he was campaigning while thousands were without power.

"That's the interpretation of the media, with all due respect," he responded, arguing that he returned once he saw that the situation was being handled. "Most crises, if I said to you 'it's over in five hours and not a single person got injured,' you'd say, 'Wow something is working.'

"I'm proud of my team and what they did," the mayor said. "And it meant that we were prepared."

De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray joined the mayor on "The View," discussing her husband's 2020 bid and dealing with the criticism he faces on the trail and in the mayor's office.

"Constructive criticism is helpful," McCray said before explaining that she often tries to ignore the negativity.

"You have to look at where the negativity is coming from, but I have to say it again, what he's doing is not just a job. He's not just a politician. He is a dedicated public servant, which is a very different way of living. It's living with meaning and purpose and it's why we get up in the morning," she continued.

"We're partners in this work together."