Morning Joe, 10/25/13, 8:41 AM ET

NY mayoral candidate defends controversial ad

Republican Joe Lhota is running against Democrat Bill de Blasio in the NYC mayoral race, and he joins Morning Joe to discuss his campaign, the policies he...

Income inequality isn’t ‘a problem’ says NYC mayoral candidate

Updated

Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota says income inequality isn’t a problem in New York City, a city where half of all inhabitants live below or near the poverty line.

“I don’t think it’s a problem, it exists,” he said on Friday’s Morning Joe.

Lhota tried to distance himself from his Democratic opponent, Bill de Blasio, in how he proposes to address the issue. After saying wealth inequality was an issue, Lhota turned and affirmed repeatedly that he doesn’t “think it’s a problem” and that you could “deal with it” by having a mayor who supports a healthy, growing economy that helps everyone get good jobs.

“Bill de Blasio doesn’t have a job creation program, in fact I think he has a job destruction program, he wants to raise taxes in the city,” Lhota said.

New York City’s borough of Manhattan holds the top honor for having the greatest income inequality of any large county. The mean income for the lowest fifth of the island’s population was $9,635, compared to $389,007 for the top fifth of Manhattan residents and $799,969 for the top 5%..

Lhota is trailing in polls far behind de Blasio; last week, he released a controversial ad suggesting his opponent’s policies would make the city dangerous, depicting images of the Crown Heights riots.

“I needed to have an ad that woke everyone up because everything being done to date is all about de Blasio, de Blasio, not about me,” he said.

He said some parts of the New York Police Department’s controversial stop and frisk program should be altered and training should improve, but said he agrees with “99% of the tactics” of the city’s policing policies.

Income inequality isn’t 'a problem’ says NYC mayoral candidate

Updated