New York 1 News

April 18, 2002

Cuomo Stands Firm On Pataki Jabs

   

Even as criticism poured in, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo stepped up his attacks on Governor George Pataki's handling of September 11.

On Wednesday, Cuomo sparked a firestorm by saying former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was the only leader after the terrorist attacks. All Pataki did, according to Cuomo, was stand behind Giuliani and "hold his coat."

The intensity of Cuomo's remarks caught even the candidate's own staff off-guard. Faced with a choice, back down or press forward with the attacks, Cuomo dug in his heels Thursday.

“We’re going to talk about performance and results and leadership and reality and we're going to talk about governor Pataki's lack of leadership,” he said.

Sources told NY1 that Cuomo called Giuliani Thursday but the former mayor didn't take the call.

Giuliani did have plenty to say to reporters.

“I hope that Andrew Cuomo ceases and desists from trying to make this into a partisan political issue,” Giuliani said. “It is not an appropriate one and it is not an honest one.”

Giuliani said he and Pataki were equal partners in the aftermath of the Twin Towers attacks. Half a dozen police and fire unions also rallied to the governor's defense.

“Andrew Cuomo can be labeled as the first politician to try to capitalize politically on the World Trade Center attacks,” said Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.

“My mother often said, ‘Put your brain in gear before you speak,” said Mike Carter of the Unifored Firefighters Association. “Clearly he has not heard those words.”

Pataki, who often talks about the state's response to September 11 at political events, did his best to set politics aside Thursday.

“We were New Yorkers standing together, and that's how we got through this horrible evil attack,” Pataki said.

Even among fellow Democrats, Cuomo didn't find much support.

“I’m not going to determine whether he picked a bad or good issue,” said Herman “Denny” Farrell, the Chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee. “The voters will make that determination.”

The other Democrat running for governor, Carl McCall, wouldn't comment on camera, even as two new polls showed Cuomo widening his lead in the Democratic primary.

McCall did issue a statement saying September 11 shouldn't be invoked to “score political points.”