Bill de Blasio takes heat for missing Puerto Rican Day Parade so he can campaign in Iowa

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking heat back home for missing this weekend’s Puerto Rican Day Parade so he can campaign for president in Iowa.

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The Democratic presidential candidate is defending his decision by saying it’s important for him to be in the state this weekend for “one of the biggest Democratic Party events of the year,” a reference to the state party's Hall of Fame dinner, which is drawing many of the Democratic candidates.

The state traditionally holds the first caucus of the 2020 Democratic primary.

“When you're running for President of the United States, [there] is always a challenge to try and balance the schedules,” de Blasio said Friday on the “Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC.

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Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz is among those ripping de Blasio for “abandoning” the parade, calling his decision “disrespectful.”

The New York Post also urged him to reverse his decision.

“Drop your plans to take your presidential campaign to Iowa over the weekend. Stay home and march in Sunday’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, as every mayor has done for decades,” the paper’s editorial board wrote Thursday. "Anything else is an insult not just to that community, but to the whole city."

But de Blasio said Friday during his radio interview: “My respect, my commitment to the Puerto Rican community is very, very well known in the community and it will continue deeply.”

De Blasio announced his campaign for the White House last month, but has struggled to gain traction so far, polling near the bottom of the pack in surveys.

Fox News’ Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.