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Potential Blunders and Upstate Obsessions Mark Paladino’s Post-Primary Days

September 19, 2010

GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino

Those of us who hoped that Carl Paladino would start taking huge strides toward solidifying the statewide GOP in the run-up to the general election have thus far been disappointed.

His hometown newspaper is painting a less than idyllic image of “Crazy Carl” and his David-versus-Golliath campaign against soft-spoken Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the days following his dramatic upset against GOP bore Rick Lazio. And what we’re seeing is a pro-upstate, “Do It Carl’s Way” kind of approach that is not instilling confidence in some of us here at Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn:

Voters excited about the newly nominated, mad-as-hell Republican candidate for governor didn’t get much of a chance to see him live and in person last week.

But if you were glued to CNN or Fox, Carl P. Paladino was hard to miss.

The Buffalo developer-turned-rebel-candidate appeared seven times on national television after last week’s primary while holding a mere three live campaign events — none of them in the vote-rich region south of the Tappan Zee bridge.

In other words, instead of treating the national media like a tiger that could eat him alive — an approach taken by other “tea party” candidates — Paladino is trying to tame the beast.

Political pros say that was an unusual way for a candidate to spend the first few days after a big primary upset, when many candidates make something of a victory tour around the state.

Yet, they say, it makes sense for a relatively unknown candidate facing off against a lopsided favorite, State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democratic candidate.

“He has got to make up a huge amount of ground, and the way to do it is the air war, not the ground war,” said Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College in New York City.

The television appearances are in keeping with Paladino’s longtime habit of extraordinary accessibility to the news media — even if he doesn’t always like what’s being said or written about him.

“That’s just the way I am,” Paladino told The Buffalo News. “I talk the truth. I don’t go out and try to hide.”

By the candidate’s count, he granted about 60 media interviews between his primary win on Tuesday and late Friday afternoon.

“You can’t get away from them,” Paladino said of reporters. “They’re like locusts. They’re everywhere.”

Political pros said Paladino’s media-friendly ways serve him well because interviews reach a lot of people in a lot of places — all at no cost to the campaign.

“I think he’s hoping to tap into something nationally that is just not available to him in New York,” said Jay Jacobs, chairman of the State Democratic Party. “I’m sure there are people in some of the more conservative, radically conservative, areas of our country who might like what Carl Paladino has to say and that possibly they want to give him some money.”

For a candidate aligned with the tea party movement, though, that approach is somewhat unusual. Other such candidates, such as GOP Senate hopefuls Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron (CQ) Angle in Nevada, have all but cut themselves off from the mainstream media after stories about their controversial comments. On Saturday, Christine O’Donnell, the Republican Senate candidate in Delaware, canceled her scheduled appearances on today’s editions of “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“Paladino does have a lot of experience with the press, and I guess he’s comfortable with that,” said James E. Campbell, a University at Buffalo political scientist. “Lots of the others want to avoid the press to avoid a Sarah Palin-type fiasco.”

Then again, Paladino’s media-friendly ways can cut both ways.

For one thing, it seems to have left the candidate with less time for other important tasks.

Joseph N. Mondello — who, as chairman of the Nassau County Republican Party, heads a venerable political machine in a vote-rich county — called Paladino on Tuesday night and as of Friday had not received a callback.

“We’re looking forward to coordinating with him,” said Anthony Santino, Mondello’s spokesman.

Asked about that, Paladino said: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know he called me.”

Paladino noted that his phone was full of messages and that he had 400 e-mails to cope with, but added that he had called nearly 30 county GOP chairmen as of late Friday afternoon and would call Mondello immediately.

Beyond that, Paladino’s penchant for the news media can result in coverage that might or might not help his campaign.

On the bright side, Eric Bolling of Fox Business News gave Paladino free rein to talk about his opponent.

“Here’s a guy that avoids Q&A,” Paladino said of Cuomo. “He doesn’t want to come out and tell anybody where he stands on any particular issue. He’s acting as though he is so entitled. His arrogance has total control of him.”

But on CNN, Rick Sanchez and Paladino talked over each other as the anchor sharply questioned the candidate’s opposition to building an Islamic community center near ground zero in New York.

“Rick, I understand you have some very liberal progressive views on this thing, OK?” Paladino said. “You believe in political … the political correctness of those views. I don’t, all right? I’m different.”

“No, no, no,” Sanchez replied.

“And I have the right to speak as I feel,” Paladino then said.

“My job — my job is to question you –.”

“No, you’re doing more than that. You’re –”

“I’m asking you a question,” Sanchez interrupted.

“You’re advocating,” Paladino replied.

Paladino’s interview with the New York Daily News resulted in a front-page picture of Paladino beneath the headline: “Meet Crazy Carl.”

Such stories leave some wondering whether Paladino can get fair coverage from downstate reporters.

Lee Coppola, dean of journalism at St. Bonaventure University, cited a New York Times story that, in the third paragraph, cited the “racist jokes” that Paladino had e-mailed to friends — a topic that had made headlines months earlier.

“That’s kind of like labeling him a wacko,” said Coppola, who added: “The (New York) Post and Daily News will also dig deep, as if to say: ‘Who are these weirdos from upstate?’ I would expect the coverage in New York City will be slanted.”

To prepare Paladino for the expected onslaught of tough coverage, Dennis C. Vacco — a former state attorney general who was the last Buffalonian in statewide office — took Paladino’s family aside Tuesday night.

Vacco, a Republican, told them: “Everything will change today. By that I meant the intensity of the scrutiny and the aggression of the campaign against him.”

Reporters from downstate “believe that their job is to test you, to test a candidate’s ability to hang in the pocket,” Vacco added.

It seems Paladino is intent on hanging there.

His first trip downstate as the GOP nominee will begin Monday. The itinerary includes no rallies or other public appearances, but is filled with meetings and interviews.

Paladino’s campaign noted that he spent a vast amount of time downstate during the primary campaign and will spend even more time there in the general election campaign.

But one longtime Democratic Party operative who has been involved in numerous statewide campaigns says Paladino might be wise to limit his campaign appearances, as he has been doing so far.

“They should make him disappear except for tea party-type events,” the Democratic operative said. “They should go all TV,” buying ads across the state, “and just slash and burn at Andrew.

“That would be a real problem for Cuomo,” the Democratic political pro added.


We shall continue to follow Mr. Paladino’s campaign in the run-up to November.

  1. Crazy Carl's CNN Appearance permalink
    September 19, 2010 6:45 pm

    I saw Carl Paladino and Rick Sanchez of CNN went tête à tête earlier:

  2. Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus permalink
    September 20, 2010 1:52 am

    I see bad days ahead for our party with Carl Paladino at the helm. We must be prepared to recover quickly after Cuomo’s triumph.

  3. HG-WT Wire Paladin: re-pitches slam at Old Hacks Koch and D'Amato permalink
    September 20, 2010 6:38 am

    Paladino is appraoching things in his own way. That got him beter than two-thirds of the vote in a Republican primary.

    Here are some interesting observation about those who’ve already lined up to attack him:

    By Donn Esmonde
    September 17, 2010, 7:31 AM

    It’s official. The Three Stooges have been reincarnated. Not since Curly, Larry and Moe have I seen a trio with this gift for slapstick comedy. The “open letter” this threesome wrote, warning the multitudes about the “danger” of newly nominated Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, was laughable.

    Al D’Amato, Ed Koch and Carl McCall took it upon themselves Wednesday to stand up for the sanctity of elective office in this state. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. I barely got past the letter’s second sentence: “This state has a long history of electing highly qualified, forward-looking statewide candidates.”

    These guys must have been passing around a bong. The state has a history all right. In recent years, we had a governor resign after a sex scandal. We had a felonious state comptroller resign in disgrace. We had the ex-Senate majority leader [a Republican] — one of Albany’s triumvirate of power — jailed for violating the public trust. Our current governor admitted to marital infidelities and past drug use, and was targeted in a baseball ticket scandal. And that is just the []shortlist. In that company, Carl Paladino — even at his crudest — raises the bar.


  4. George Bruce Cortelyou permalink
    September 20, 2010 11:18 am

    Mr. Paladino is not demonstrating he can succeed at anything except winning against a lackluster, boring GOP candidate. That doesn’t amount to very much, in my book.

    • The scale of Paladino's win was completely unexpected. It's called a new paradigm. permalink
      September 20, 2010 10:36 pm

      In the post-“Tea Party” world all things political are possible.

      Throw in some of Mr. Paladino’s cash and it’s time for “Anything Goes” and hang on for the ride.

  5. Russell Gallo's Aging Cell Phone permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:48 pm

    Lucretia 😎

    Ur soooooooo nasty. Me likes it.

    XOXO …

    Forget that. I wanna destroy you 🙂

  6. What About Other Republican Candidates and Other Blunders? permalink
    September 20, 2010 11:07 pm

    There are about half a dozen Republicans running statewide in 2010.

    Which of those candidates has endorsed the whole Republican ticket.

    To date, one of them, AG candidate Daniel Donovan, has not endorsed Carl Paladino.

    Donovan should get a similar cold shoulder from all Republcans on election day.

  7. Eaton's & Golden's Mayor to Endorse Democrat Cuomo permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:48 pm

    Mayor Bloomberg is endorsing Andy-Boy Cuomo.

    Craig Eaton and Marty Golden aren’t likely to respond and don’t make a difference anyway.

    If there were a real Republican Organization or Tea Party in Brooklyn somebody might have heard that a tree has fallen (other than those from last week’s cyclo-this and micro-that).

    Eaton…phfffft…who cares!

    As Marty Golden yawns at this, let’s everybody yawn at Marty Golden.

Comments are closed.

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