Toronto Mayor Rob Ford officially launched his re-election campaign before a crowd of supporters Thursday night — sticking closely to the issues he has stressed over his last four years as mayor.
In a 30-minute speech before some 2,000 supporters, Ford pledged to fight special interests, to cut red tape and to keep taxes low if returned to office on Oct. 27.
"I’m running on my record and my record is second to none," Ford told the crowd at the Toronto Congress Centre, the same venue where he celebrated his election victory back in 2010.
"I'm the most open hard-working mayor this city has ever had. I continue to pledge honesty and transparency."
Ford touted his accomplishments — including his often-repeated line about having saved taxpayers $1 billion — but said little about his plans for the future, beyond his continued support for the Scarborough subway expansion, which has lingered as an issue among the other candidates.
His brother and campaign manager, Coun. Doug Ford, said during his short introductory speech that the campaign will reveal more details "in the coming months."
Ford did not directly address the scandals that have marked his time as mayor, though he made a joke early on about facing "walls of reporters" outside his office.
He described himself as an ordinary guy who has learned from his mistakes, also a familiar refrain, and thanked his supporters for their kindness and "spirit of second chances."
Ford then made references to others "throwing mud" at him.
"No matter what challenges lay ahead, no matter what mud is thrown at me, my message couldn’t be clearer — I won’t back down," Ford told the cheering crowd, amid chants of "Four more years” and “Rob is No. 1."
"I won’t back down from the issues that matter to you. I won’t back down from protecting taxpayer dollars. I won’t back down from putting people's interests ahead of special interests.
“If you have my back when they start throwing mud … I promise you, Rob Ford will have your back for the next four years.”
The race to be Toronto's next mayor also includes Olivia Chow, David Soknacki, John Tory and Karen Stintz.
Lots of chairs filled here at Ford launch. But lots of empty ones to. pic.twitter.com/B3ucoNpTO0— Jamie Strashin (@StrashinCBC) April 18, 2014