On the day he paid back a $9,000 debt owed to the city, Kwame Kilpatrick (search) defiantly announced he would be seeking a second term as mayor of Detroit.
"I'm not being defensive, but the gloves are off now," Kilpatrick said on Tuesday.
But Kilpatrick, the flashy son of a U.S. congresswoman who was elected four years ago as the city's youngest mayor, faces real challenges. The man the media dubbed the "hip-hop" mayor has been tripped up by allegations of lavish parties, fancy cars and most recently, financial impropriety.
Detroit Auditor General Joe Harris (search), who ran for mayor against Kilpatrick four years ago, showed FOX News a mountain of charges the mayor put on his city-issued credit card.
In all, Kilpatrick racked up $210,000 in charges, including $20,623 worth of expenses that his office said are being disputed with the credit card company or reviewed for accuracy.
Harris claims Kilpatrick spent thousands of dollars on unexplained expenses.
"A swimming suit, for a spa, for limos. Eleven or 12,000 [dollars] for I don't know what, but it appears to be a suite or a party at the Super Bowl," Harris said.
Critics question why the mayor lavishly charged away while at the same time eliminated 4,000 jobs and Detroit's deficit tripled to $300 million.
"Kwame Kilpatrick wanted to be mayor in order that he could ride around in a limo, go to Pistons games for free and get all the women that he wanted to and he has behaved more like the head of a frat house at a major university than he has as mayor of a stricken city," said Wayne State University political scientist Jack Lessenberry.
Kilpatrick has been battered by the local media, and Time magazine named him one of America's worst mayors.
But Kilpatrick counters that he had to wine and dine clients to secure the millions in contracts he's won for Detroit. And he say critics want to nitpick. They refuse to focus on the positives of his administration.
"We're building about 7,400 houses, which is more than we've built in 50 years — from low-income housing all the way to market-rate housing. We're redeveloping 11 dinosaur, horrible buildings in downtown, the city of Detroit, that have been there since I was born.
"We've moved 23 new restaurants to downtown Detroit. Like I said, we have the Major League All-Star game, Super Bowl, the Final Four is coming up in the city of Detroit," said the self-described "6-foot-4, 300-pound black man with an earring" in his ear.
Kilpatrick's mother, five-term Michigan Democratic Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (search), also came to her son's defense.
"He's committed to his people and his community. He's shown that," she said.
A recent independent poll suggests that for Kilpatrick to win a second term, he'll have to change public opinion. According to an EPIC/MRA poll of 400 people, just 36 percent gave him positive marks, down from 71 percent two years ago.
But this former football player refuses to take a sack.
"It's time for some offense, and as an offensive tackle, I can't wait to hit somebody," he said.
Even his critics concede Kilpatrick may not have to hit hard — despite an air of scandal, the mayor's financial base and his political machine backing re-election will be stronger than anyone who opposes him.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.