New York 1 News

April 17, 2002

Cuomo Blasts Pataki's Performance After Sept. 11


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo harshly criticized Governor George Pataki's performance following the September 11 attacks Wednesday, saying he rode the coattails of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instead of providing real leadership.

"There was a leader in 9/11; it was Rudy Giuliani,” Cuomo said in an interview on his campaign bus. “Pataki stood behind the leader. He held the leader's coat. He was a great assistant to the leader. But he was not a leader. Cream rises to the top, and Rudy Giuliani rose to the top."

When told about Cuomo's comments by reporters in Albany, Pataki said he was stunned.

“There are things I could say, but I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Pataki said. “I'm very proud of how the people of New York responded to the horrible, horrible attack, and I think all New Yorkers are proud of how the people of New York responded.”

Reporters pressed the governor, but he refused to comment further. “I am stunned by the comments,” he said. “I think it's just very sad."

Giuliani sharply criticized Cuomo’s comments, saying that Pataki was an equal partner during the crisis. He predicted Cuomo's attack would only help Pataki win a third term.

Cuomo - who is running against state Comptroller Carl McCall for the Democratic nomination and a chance to face the Republican incumbent in November - also assailed Pataki for the condition of the upstate economy Wednesday as he continued a four-day tour of the state to promote his agenda.

McCall also entered the debate, saying the governor's leadership in the rebuilding effort in Lower Manhattan has been lacking.

Meanwhile, a poll taken before Cuomo made his comments about Pataki shows him pulling away from opponent Carl McCall.

Marist College asked state Democrats who they would vote for if the election were held today. This month, 51 percent picked Cuomo, while only 34 percent said they would vote for McCall. Fifteen percent remained undecided.

That's a jump for Cuomo. In December of last year, the same poll said 41 percent would vote for Cuomo, while 37 percent said they would choose McCall and 22 percent were undecided.

The poll also asked if Democrats had a favorable impression of their party's candidates. In all, 62 percent said they had a favorable impression of Cuomo, while 18 percent had an unfavorable impression.

The poll also shows 55 percent said they liked McCall, while 12 percent said they didn't.