Bloomberg Endorses Cuomo for Governor

The endorsement comes as a new poll shows Paladino surging.

By Melissa Russo, Jennifer Millman and Michael Gormley
|  Friday, Sep 24, 2010  |  Updated 4:23 PM EDT
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The Attorney General accepts the Mayor's endorsement, even if he didn't always endorse him back.

The Attorney General accepts the Mayor's endorsement, even if he didn't always endorse him back.

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Saying anger is not a governing strategy, Mayor Bloomberg Tuesday endorsed Democrat Andrew Cuomo as the best candidate to be New York's next chief executive.

"I think Andrew Cuomo is the right person," Bloomberg said at a press event at City Hall Park.

The endorsement comes as a Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday shows a spike in support for Republican Carl Paladino, who was once a longshot to win the GOP line in the governor's race.

The new poll shows the attorney general ahead of his upstate opponent by a mere six points -- 49 percent to 43 percent -- indicating a gap much smaller than anticipated. Cuomo leads 87 percent to 8 percent among Democrats while Paladino lures Republicans (83 percent to 13 percent) and independent voters (49 percent to 43 percent). He's also overwhelmingly backed by the Tea Party, although only 18 percent of likely voters in the state consider themselves part of the movement.

"The question was whether Carl Paladino would get a bounce from his big Republican primary victory. The answer is yes. He’s within shouting distance and – you can count on it – he will be shouting," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Attorney General Andrew Cuomo might be a victim of his own excess. Politicians and polls have depicted him so relentlessly as a sure thing that he might be a victim of the 'throw the bums out' attitude that hits incumbents in this angry year," Carroll added.

Accepting Bloomberg's endorsement, Cuomo shrugged off the latest polling numbers.

"I'm in politics," Cuomo said. "I'm in government. Nothing surprises me. I take it all with a grain of salt."

Speaking of politics and a grain of salt, Cuomo either forgot who he voted for mayor or lied -- or "misspoke" -- about it today while standing next to Mike Bloomberg at his endorsement.

When asked if he ever voted for Mike Bloomberg, Cuomo said he had voted for Bloomberg but didn't specify in which race (2001, 2005 or 2009).

Later, NBCNewYork asked Cuomo's campaign again and spokesman Josh Vlasto sent this resposne via email: "He misspoke. He was only registered to vote in NYC in 2005 when he endorsed Freddy Ferrer.  As he said today, he thinks the Mayor is doing a good job."

Cuomo, who leads among likely women voters and loses among men, according to today's poll, has yet to officially agree to a debate with Paladino.
Despite the lack of face-to-face contact, the contest is gaining national attention for some nasty tactics by both sides, even as
pressing issues in New York remain, among them a fiscal crisis and the state  government's reputation for dysfunction and corruption. The right-leaning website the Drudge Report featured the governor's race Tuesday under the headline: "NY: The nastiest campaign ... dirt, smears, insults.''
 
This week Paladino wrote Cuomo, the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo: "For the first time in your life be a man. Don't hide
behind daddy's coattails even though he pulled strings to advance your career every step of your way. Come out and debate like a
man.''
 
In a rare interview Tuesday, Cuomo told WGDJ-AM in Albany that he still hasn't determined if his campaign will agree on details to
debate Paladino. The millionaire Buffalo developer and political novice shocked the GOP a week ago by beating the party's designee, former U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio, in his landslide primary win.
 
Cuomo, the state's attorney general, had a 2:1 lead in the polls  and a $20 million fundraising advantage in the latest state filings
before last week's GOP primary.
 
Cuomo said, however, that he's his own campaign strategist and is above the fray, although the state Democratic Committee he
directs has engaged Paladino for weeks. While Cuomo has refused to comment on Paladino publicly, Democratic surrogates and the state committee, responding to reporters' questions, have attacked and  counterattacked Paladino in TV ads and blistering broadsides, calling Paladino "crazy."
 
"I think we have them worried,'' Paladino told The Associated  Press. "We're trying to bloody them up and send them back'' out of
government. "They are like locusts coming from every direction right now.''
 
Democrats on Monday released an Internet image of Paladino's face on a pig's body, with a pig's nose, rooting at "the public
trough.'' It's a reference to about $10 million a year in state rents he collects for buildings he owns in Buffalo, a tax break and
his own campaign contributions over the years to Democrats and Republicans.
 
Days before, Paladino's campaign released an image with Cuomo's face on a man in a shower trying to rinse off "special interest
$$$'' and other political dirt, referring to Cuomo's campaign contributors that include powerful public worker unions and other
groups aligned with Democrats who control Albany. A rubber duck sat in the soap dish.
 
In Tuesday's radio interview, Cuomo tried to distance himself  from the attack ads and news stories critical of Paladino, but he
said he wouldn't admonish the state committee.
 
A New York Daily News headline on Tuesday stated: "Mad Carl Disease! Baffled Cuomo seeks cure for Paladino's personal
attacks.'' The story told of an emergency meeting of Cuomo and his campaign staff on how to combat Paladino directly. Cuomo didn't deny the meeting happened.
 
"I don't think that was necessary,'' said Cuomo of the pig-at-the-trough ad, refusing to say if he approved the message.
"I'm not going to run a campaign that engages in gutter politics,'' he said, laughing at what he sees as Paladino's
strategy.
 
Asked about whether he would agree to debate Paladino, Cuomo raised the possibility of requiring that Lazio, who may still run
in November on the minor party line, be part of the debate. Cuomo wouldn't respond when told that tactic is usually done to dilute
the opposition's message and air time.
 
When pressed, Cuomo wouldn't say if he will debate.
 
"As soon as the question was asked, I said I was open to debate and the campaigns would talk about it. That was just last week,''
Cuomo said, with six weeks left in the campaign. "Open to debating' means I'm open to debating, just what the words suggest... that really isn't a legitimate issue.''
 
Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said Cuomo's campaign was not negotiating. "They are ducking me,'' Paladino said.

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