The Future of the Republican Party… I hope not.

I am not sure where this one came from… maybe he still believes in the smaller government otherwise what the hell difference does it make.

“I am pro-choice; they are not. I am pro-gay rights as well as marriage equality; they are not. I have been outspoken about these issues over and over again. Do not lump me with the national Republicans. It’s unbecoming.”

— New York City mayoral candidate Joe Lhota (R), quoted by Gawker, at his debate last night with Bill de Blasio (D).

New York City mayoral hopefuls Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota squared off in their first general election debate Tuesday night, trading barbs while offering starkly different views for the future of the nation’s largest city.

They disagreed on issues ranging from tax hikes to public safety to their baseball allegiances, each presenting themselves as the most qualified choice to lead a city preparing to take its first steps beyond the 12-year reign of Mayor Bloomberg.

De Blasio, the city’s Democratic public advocate, has a commanding lead in the polls but did not play it safe in the debate, instead repeatedly attacking Lhota by linking him to the national Republican party, which is largely unpopular in a city where Democrats outnumber the GOP by a 6-to-1 margin.

“My opponent told the Staten Island Tea Party that their values are so close to his,” said de Blasio, trying to group Lhota with the right-wing Republican faction which polling suggests is largely being blamed for the current federal government shutdown.

Frequently put on the defensive on a night where he desperately needed to land blows on the front runner, Lhota called de Blasio’s line of attack “unbecoming.”

“You keep talking about me like I’m some sort of national Republican,” said Lhota, who is more moderate than the Tea Party on most issues. “Don’t lump me in with people I’m often in disagreement with.”

The debate, the first of three before the Nov. 5 election, at times resembled a wonky policy seminar, as the men delved into the minutia about building codes and tax abatements. But it was also punctuated by a series of sharp exchanges, including when Lhota suggested that the city’s record low crime rate, largely achieved under Republican administrations, could be in jeopardy if de Blasio were elected.

Lhota called de Blasio “untested” and reiterated his executive experience as former deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani and his stint as head of the city’s transit agency.

“I can be mayor on day without any training, without any learning curve whatsoever,” said Lhota

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