Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton gushed over Bill de Blasio's "vision" and "leadership" in a closed-door fundraiser during his 2013 mayoral campaign, another reminder of why de Blasio's refusal to endorse Clinton on the day of her presidential announcement perplexed and infuriated her political allies.
Clinton in 2013: Bill de Blasio 'a partner who always had my back'
Calling de Blasio "a fighter" in the mold of legendary New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Clinton told a crowd of Democratic donors that she bonded with de Blasio when he managed her 2000 campaign for Senate in New York.
Audio from the October 2013 fundraiser in Manhattan, which has never been made public, was provided to CNN by a Democratic source.
"Hiring Bill was one of the best decisions I made," Clinton said during an 11-minute speech at the fundraiser. "What I found was a partner who always had my back, but always was willing to tell me whatever I needed to hear. That's the kind of mayor he will be. Somebody who will stand up and fight for the people of New York, but also tell them what they need to hear."
Their careers of Clinton and de Blasio have been intertwined going back to Clinton's 2000 campaign for the Senate, which de Blasio managed. Clinton endorsed his up-from-nowhere campaign in 2013 and raised money for him. And the Clintons appeared on stage next to the mayor on the frigid day of his swearing-in.
De Blasio, a self-styled progressive populist, declined to repay the favor on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday, saying that he wanted to hear more about Clinton's "substance" and "vision" before signing up.
The comments privately rankled some Clinton supporters, who pointed to her support for de Blasio's campaign. They also pointed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's swift endorsement of Clinton after she finally announced her long-awaited campaign on Sunday.
In the 2013 fundraiser, Clinton praised de Blasio's wife Chirlaine McCray and their children, fondly remembering a "sleepover at the White House" when the family visited Washington during Bill Clinton's time in the White House.
"It's important for me to be back in New York with all of you, because I wanted to have a chance to lend my voice to the growing chorus of people who know that the next mayor will be somebody that cares about them and is committed to moving this great city forward," Clinton said at the event.