Spitzer-Stringer Part Deux
The high road is often the more scenic and beautiful one. When one has the luxury of taking the high road, it usually makes sense to follow it. But the lofty dreams of Scott Stringer and by extension much of the Spitzer-fearing Dem establishment can afford that indulgence no longer. The polls show Spitzer ahead in the New York City Comptroller race. A lead that appears to be growing. Nowhere is that more pronounced than among African American voters, a strong and powerful voice in the Democratic party.
What’s going on here? Everyone is in a panic, that’s what. And after promising repeatedly to keep the race focused on issues and not get down in the mud to defeat Spitzer, the Stringer campaign seems to be taking a new tack. In the most recent NY1 debate, Stringer repeatedly accused Spitzer of money laundering. He said on August 12,
“I don’t think it is right that the person who runs for this office should be someone who engaged in money laundering.”
But a solid piece of reporting in today’s Times by Kate Taylor pretty much debunks that. Asked about his earlier claim, Stringer backed away from it at a campaign stop in Harlem,
“There is a debate over what constitutes money laundering. But think about how crazy this is. We are actually three weeks out from an election. Amd one of the candidates is trying to claim victory by saying it wasn’t money laundering. I mean this year has just been incredible.”
According to Spitzer, who spoke to us exclusively this afternoon, there is no longer a debate,
“‘A’, it’s false. ‘B’ the New York Times story made it eminently clear it’s false. ‘C’ everybody who has looked at it has concluded it was false. And it speaks more to the quality of his campaign than anything else.”
Asked about the scurrilous nature of a money laundering allegation, Spitzer said,
“There has been a lot that’s been said. And you put on your political body armor when you get into the fray. You try to let things like that bounce off without affecting you, or let it get to you. I’m not going to let that happen. I’m going to run the campaign I would like to run, and that is to talk about my record.”
Scott Stringer is in a tough spot. He started out thinking he and Eliot would have a gentlemanly duel, and the best candidate would win. He probably assumed that voters were tired of scandal, and would do the right thing by electing the guy who didn’t resign in disgrace. This is the same Stringer who didn’t even challenge Spitzer’s ballot petitions when he miraculously produced seven times the number needed in record time. Then Stringer swore off bringing up the circumstances leading to Spitzer’s resignation. But somewhere along the way, Stringer changed his tactics. And when that change devolved into a charge of money laundering, it appears to have backfired. The truth is, panic rarely leads to clear thinking or good ideas.
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