With one month to go, the campaign for New York Governor has become a bare-knuckles brawl. The political equivalent of World Federation Wrestling began when videos of Republican candidate Carl Paladino's confrontation with the New York Post's Fred Dicker Wednesday night went viral.
WNYC's political reporters Bob Hennelly and Azi Paybarah discussed the fast-paced events of the week:
Bob, this video that we keep seeing over and over again on TV and on Web sites, and hearing on the radio, was not between Paladino and his Democratic rival Andrew Cuomo. So, Fred Dicker -- remind us who he is and what this confrontation was about?
First, the clip seen 'round the world was, Post reporter Fred Dicker was asking Carl Paladino to back up charges a Republican candidate made that Attorney General Cuomo had not been faithful during his high-profile marriage to Kerry Kennedy, that produced three daughters, but ended in a difficult divorce. Now this thing had been brewing between Dicker and Paladino for a long time, because for years, going back to Gov. Mario Cuomo, Mr. Dicker had been favored with amazing access time--and I'd be jealous--to the Cuomos. So Carl Paladino believes that Dicker is actually more of a press agent, if you will. That was further reinforced because Paladino believes that Dicker sent a Post photographer to the home of Paladino's ten-year-old daughter that he had with someone other than his wife. He makes no secret of the existence of this ten-year-old daughter, continues to support her, and reconciled with his wife. That's it, in short order.
Azi, you were with Cuomo on Staten Island where he responded publicly for the first time to Paladino's allegation of marital infidelity. What did Cuomo say?
He said that this was hurtful to him, and personally to his daughters, because they had to read it in the papers. But he also said it's the reason why voters are sort of turned off to politics:
"Look, was it negative? Is it destructive? Did my kids have to read it? Yes," Cuomo said. "Was it hurtful to my kids, who, you know, are in school? Of course it was.
Now, the important thing to note is that this dust-up overshadowed the news of the day, which was the endorsement that Andrew Cuomo got, from the Staten Island borough president, who is a registered conservative, Jim Molinaro.
Paladino's no-holds-barred style helped him win the Republican gubernatorial primary, over his less confrontational rival Rick Lazio. Could it be that Paladino's style is hurting him, more than helping?
It is very, very possible. Remember, the person he defeated in the Republican primary, Rick Lazio, dropped out of the race, which allowed the conservative party to get behind Paladino. But, Rick Lazio did not endorse him. And, as we saw, Jim Molinaro did not endorse him. Former Mayor Rudy Guiliani, a notable Republican, has not endorsed him. So there are some people who are staying away from him at the moment.
Paladino also upped the ante this week and accused Cuomo of taking bribes from a longtime friend and business associate. Bob -- what's that all about?
He actually threw the word, phrase, bribery in there. This has been around before. Cuomo has gotten critical press for his relationship with Andrew Farkas, a real-estate mogul whose family founded the Alexander's department store. Now, Farkas was sued by HUD, while Cuomo was at that agency -- remember, he was there during the Clinton administration -- for allegedly paying kickbacks to building owners. Now, those charges were settled civilly, and Farkas's company made no admission of wrongdoing. But scroll forward years later, Cuomo went to work for a Farkas company, and Farkas has since been a major, key Cuomo campaign donor.