A Republican congressional candidate held a rather unique press conference Friday morning accompanied by a supporter wearing a panda suit.
Nick Di iorio, who is running against veteran New York City Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D), said the panda demonstrated he was running a “serious campaign.”
“We’re here because this is a serious campaign that has to address, and is addressing, serious issues. But Carolyn Maloney is focused on [other] things,” Di iorio began, standing on the steps of New York City Hall. “She wanted to adopt a panda. So, I’ve taken care of that.”
Di iorio then introduced the panda as it hugged him and did various poses nearby.
“I’ve adopted my own panda. This is Kevin. Kevin is here to be the panda that we’re going to bring to New York City. And now we can get that off the table and focus on the real issues,” he said, citing problems like corruption, the economy, the defence of Israel, and Ebola. “Today we have one of the most important crises in New York City. Ebola has come to New York and we don’t have the leadership.”
Maloney drew attention in August when she visited China in a bid to bring a panda to New York City. According to the New York Post, Maloney’s heart was “set on bringing back 4-year-old giant panda Han Han and a mate so they can procreate at a Big Apple zoo.”
“I fell in love with Han Han,” she told the paper. “He’s the perfect age. He grabbed my hand! He held my hand!”
But Di iorio scoffed at Maloney’s panda plan and said federal lawmakers have no impact on zoo animal policy.
“She can’t even do it. She has no legal authority to bring a panda to New York. It has to come from the mayor’s office, here at City Hall. She pretended to do that and the media took the bait. People gave her full-page coverage because of something she couldn’t even do. And that’s why we’re here today: We’re making light of the panda because she is not on the job,” he said.
The Republican also argued Maloney has been ineffective on her other causes. To demonstrate this, the panda slowly rolled out a long list of what Di iorio described as Maloney’s unsuccessful legislation on the steps of the City Hall.
When Business Insider asked if the bear was a campaign volunteer, Di iorio’s supporters insisted he was a real panda from China.
Maloney’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Due to the Democratic lean of her district, forecasters do not expect her to face a close race in November.
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