Former New York Governor George Pataki may back Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino, a Tea Party supporter who according to a New York Daily News story called Pataki a “degenerate idiot.”
“I would certainly be inclined to support him despite what he might have called me,” Pataki said during a Wall Street Journal-sponsored conference today on the state’s future. He said Paladino, a developer from Buffalo, must express his agenda “in a way that turns anger into policies.”
Paladino, 64, overcame a 27 percentage-point lead by former congressman Rick Lazio using more than $3 million of his own money and an anti-tax “I’m Mad As Hell” message in the Sept. 14 primary. He will face Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in November’s general election.
According to a New York Daily News article today, Paladino told a gathering of building contractors in Long Island during the summer that Pataki, who was governor of New York from 1995 to 2006 and supported Lazio in the primary, is a “degenerate idiot.”
The comment was taken “out of context,” Michael Caputo, Paladino’s campaign manager, said in an interview. It was made in reference to Pataki’s behavior in dealing with a union while in office, and not meant to describe the former governor’s personal qualities, he said. He said Paladino meant to ask, “What kind of a person would think to cut this kind of deal?”
Paladino, who has described New York’s government as incompetent, spendthrift and corrupt, has said he would shut down government if lawmakers balk at his plans to cut spending by 20 percent and taxes by 10 percent in his first year.
“Carl Paladino has tapped into that very real anger,” Pataki said. “The voters are so angry they just don’t want to replace the Democrats, who they are primarily angry at, with Republicans. They want to replace them with Republicans who are truly going to enact change.”
Paladino said in a telephone interview that he does not construe Pataki’s comments as an endorsement. “We consider this a door-opening for further talks and we appreciate the governor’s interest in supporting us,” he said.