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Democratic mayoral wannabe Andrew Yang claims he only abandoned the Big Apple to ride out the worst of the COVID-19 crisis — but joked that he was “trying to escape New York” long before the pandemic struck, The Post has learned.
Yang — who announced Tuesday that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus — was stumping for votes during his doomed presidential bid when he was chatted up by a man who recorded himself introducing Yang to his fiancee, a video clip shows.
“Could we just take a selfie with you? This is my fiancee, Lorena,” the unidentified man says.
“She’s from The Bronx, in New York, so she’s —”
At that point, Yang interrupted with remarks harking back to the 1981 cult classic “Escape from New York,” starring Kurt Russell, in which a futuristic Manhattan has been turned into a hellish prison island.
“Way to escape, too,” Yang told the woman.
“I’ve been trying to escape New York for a while.”
Yang clearly knew he was being recorded, as the video shows him waving at the camera earlier, after the man said, “Do you mind if I film? I have a 3D YouTube channel.”
Andrew Yang was caught on video joking that he was “trying to escape New York” long before COVID-19 struck.NY Post composite/Alamy
“Oh, that’s so fun,” Yang said.
The 16-second recording, obtained by The Post, appears to have been shot at the Greensview Elementary School in Upper Arlington, Ohio, where Yang held a campaign event on Feb.
“It plays into the narrative about Yang’s commitment to New York City, that he wasn’t in the city during the peak of the pandemic,” Muzzio said.
“Whether what he said was intentional or not, it’s got to hurt a little. I’m sure it’s going to be in someone else’s campaign ad.”
Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the Partnership for New York City, also said, “Hopefully this was a joke, but in the pandemic environment, where New York is struggling to keep talent in the city, it sounds rather tone-deaf.”
Yang — who’s never voted in a city mayoral election — came under fire last month when Politico reported that he, his wife and two young sons relocated from their Manhattan apartment to a second home in upstate New Paltz when the coronavirus began spreading across the city last year.
“I spent my time across New York City, where my kids are enrolled in school, upstate, so my kids could spend more time outside in the depths of the first wave, especially my son Christopher, who is autistic,” Yang said in a statement at the time.
In November, Yang also announced that he and his family were moving to Georgia to assist Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev.
5 run-off campaigns for the US Senate, which both won. Andrew Yang appears to have made the remarks during a 2019 campaign event during his presidential bid.Stephen Yang for NY Post
In a prepared statement, Yang campaign spokesman Jake Sporn tried to downplay his boss’ uncovered attempt to crack wise by dumping on the city.
“While the other candidates are wasting time looking for old jokes from Andrew, he’s focused on big ideas to move New York — where he’s lived, worked and raised a family for over 25 years — forward, including cash relief, a covid vaccine app and creating a public bank,” Sporn said.