New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democratic presidential favourite Hillary Clinton were compelled to defend a joke made by the mayor at a charity dinner that critics called racially offensive.
The incident happened on Saturday night, when Clinton and De Blasio participated in a skit at the Inner Circle dinner, a black-tie event in which New York City's political press section and politicians make fun of each other.
Clinton took the stage apparently to thank De Blasio, a former aide, for his delayed endorsement of her for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton said, "Took you long enough." De Blasio responded, "Sorry, Hillary. I was running on C.P. time." The phrase refers to the label that African-Americans are typically late for appointments. Broadway actor Leslie Odom Jr., who was also standing on stage with Clinton and De Blasio said, "That's not - I don't like jokes about that, Bill."
Clinton then turned to Odom and said the punch line, "Cautious Politician Time. I've been there."
The joke was widely condemned in the media, with New York magazine calling it "amazingly unfunny, terribly executed". Left-leaning website Salon called it "cringeworthy."
On Monday evening, De Blasio told CNN that critics of the skit were "missing the point." He said, "It was clearly a staged show. It was a scripted show and the whole idea was to do the counter intuitive and say 'cautious politician time. Every actor involved, including Hillary Clinton and Leslie Odom Jr., thought it was a joke on a different convention."
In a statement to ABC News, a Clinton spokesperson said, "We agree with the mayor."