Pinning the crisis on the end of redlining was “a very inaccurate description” that “really mischaracterizes the dynamics of what was happening,” said Debby Goldberg, the vice president of housing policy at the National Fair Housing Alliance, a nonprofit group.
“I would have expected somebody who had their finger on the pulse of what was happening in New York and cities and neighborhoods elsewhere to have had a more sophisticated analysis at the time,” she said. “And now it’s clear it completely missed the mark of what was actually going on.”
Jesse Van Tol, the chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, called Mr. Bloomberg’s comments “problematic then, and problematic now.”
“Suggesting that basically lower income people caused the crisis by taking out more they could afford is a deflection from Wall Street. It’s a defense from the fact that, pure and simple, Wall Street caused the crisis,” Mr. Van Tol said.
“It is a billionaire defending other billionaires and placing the blame on lower-income homeowners,” he added. “I don’t think this is going to play well in the current political environment.”
There is no shortage of material from Mr. Bloomberg’s past for his opponents — and the media — to comb through. Having spent more than two decades in the public eye, as a prominent businessman, then as a blunt-speaking city leader and philanthropist, Mr. Bloomberg has weighed in on countless charged topics, often in comfortable settings that tended to encourage candor.
Within Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign, there is a general recognition that his candidacy has entered a new and more adversarial phase, when he will be treated by his rivals as a direct threat rather than a distant, multibillion-dollar curiosity. The hope among his advisers is that Democratic voters who see him as the best chance to defeat President Trump will be inclined to take a forgiving view of the elements of his record and persona that they find troubling.
Maggie Astor, Alexander Burns, Thomas Kaplan and Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.
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