CHICAGO (CBS) — A day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to tie former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to President Donald Trump, McCarthy tried to turn the tables, calling Emanuel and Trump “the two most polarizing figures in American politics today.”
McCarthy accused the mayor of trying to distract voters, rather than talk about the issues that are most important to Chicago.
“His strategy is to distract and to attack. That’s what it’s going to be,” McCarthy told CBS 2. “He’s not going to talk about the issues, because he can’t. He’s got a record of failure. What’s he going to talk about, how much better things are? The only thing that’s gotten better in this city in the last six years is the Cubs, and he’ll take credit for that, too.”
McCarthy jumped into the race for mayor on Wednesday, and the next day the man who fired him released a campaign video showing Trump calling McCarthy “a phenomenal guy.”
After quoting commentators who have called McCarthy “Trump-like,” the video ends with the narrator saying “A Trump-McCarthy ticket? Phenomenally bad for Chicago.”
The video clearly is an attempt to exploit Trump’s extremely low approval in Chicago as the mayor’s race begins to get into gear.
On Friday, McCarthy turned the Trump comparison back on Emanuel.
“The arrogance of this is just overwhelming to me. He took a $50,000 donation from the president a couple years ago. He and the president are very much alike. They’re probably the two most polarizing figures in American politics today. Look at the staffers that they go through. It’s the same exact dynamic,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he wants to focus on three major issues in the race for mayor: schools, crime, and the economy and taxes, and he said voters will see through Emanuel’s attempts to distract from any criticism of his record.
“The arrogance of him is overwhelming that I’m going to talk about shootings, he’s going to talk about Donald Trump. I’m going to talk about the economy and the taxes, he’s going to talk about global warming. He cares so much about Chicagoans that he’s on the way to Puerto Rico to have a photo-op handing out bottles of water. It’s unbelievable. He believes that Chicagoans don’t see it. I can’t believe how insulting it is,” he said.
As for what could be his toughest task in running for mayor, addressing the Laquan McDonald police shooting scandal that happened on his watch, McCarthy defended his record on the case. He said he did the only thing he could about the shooting, he took Officer Jason Van Dyke off the streets.
McCarthy said he did not have the power to fire Van Dyke or discipline him in any other way. He said that’s one issue he’d like to change: giving the head of the Chicago Police Department more leeway to discipline officers for misconduct.
“I was accountable for the behavior, but I wasn’t in charge of the disciplinary system, and that’s a big problem,” McCarthy said. “If I could do it all over again, I’d try to revamp the disciplinary system in 2012, and the mayor stopped it from happening. That’s what ended up leading to my termination, because people thought that I could do things which I couldn’t.”
He also criticized the Emanuel administration for allowing the murder rate to skyrocket after he was fired.
“The murder rate goes up 80 percent in the two years since I was fired. So if anybody thinks that’s okay, then let’s just keep doing what we’re doing. If you don’t think it’s okay, then it’s time for change,” he said.