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New York candidates vie on crime

NEW YORK -- Fernando Ferrer, who is aiming to unseat Michael Bloomberg as mayor, criticized him at a debate yesterday for his ties to President Bush, who is not generally popular in the city.

The biggest argument erupted when Bloomberg and Ferrer were discussing crime. Bloomberg said that there are too many guns on the streets, and that New York needs help from the federal government on gun control.

Bloomberg said Ferrer had done nothing on the issue when he was borough president of the Bronx. He added that Ferrer is cozy with Howard Dean, the chairman of the national Democratic party, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association when he was governor of Vermont.

Ferrer, a Democrat, said Bloomberg, a Republican, ''supported the party and the president whose policies have hurt his city."

''Not on this policy, I didn't," said Bloomberg.

At another point, Ferrer turned to Bloomberg and said: ''I'm proud of the work that I did with Bill Clinton and the support that I got from him. Are you proud of George Bush?"

''George Bush is the president of the United States; I agree with him on some things, I disagree with him on others," Bloomberg said. He quoted former mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who said there was no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage.

''You've got to work with everybody," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg, who is ahead by about 30 points in most opinion polls, has considerable support from Democrats.

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