Spitzer’s Non-Campaign Campaign Speech

It must be nice to be Eliot Spitzer right now.

At an appearance this morning in midtown at the Personal Democracy Forum, he gave a lengthy policy speech without once referring to the fact that he’s not technically governor yet.

Nor did that fact come up in a subsequent question-and-answer session with ABC News political director Mark Halperin and with members of the tech-obsessed audience.

Spitzer’s talk on New York’s “digital divide” and the need for state government to facilitate universally accessible, affordable broadband technology went over well enough, drawing repeated applause in an auditorium filled with people balancing computers on their laps.

When the clapping died down after one line about a “comprehensive statewide broadband initiative,” Spitzer said, “If that line didn’t work here, I was going to give it up.”

He went on to lay out a vision of the near future that was heavily inspired, by the sounds of it, by Personal Democracy founder Andrew Rasiej: upstate farmers remotely controlling milking machines, fire and police dispatchers receiving marching orders from anywhere in the field and constituents complaining to their elected officials through wireless broadband technology.

Under questioning from Halperin, Spitzer correctly named the price of a single-tune download from iTunes, but pled ignorance on his monthly bill for internet access at home. When asked about his broader plan, Spitzer declined to get too specific about how the state would farm out the work of assembling the statewide broadband network, or how much any of it might cost.

Still, it’s a nice problem for him to have: a genuine wonk, he’s talking about governing half a year out from the actual election, even before his policy platform is fully formed.

At some point, he’ll have to fill in the pesky details. But the mere fact that Spitzer is now spending his time testing out policy themes in front of specialized audiences doesn’t say much for his level of concern about his Democratic opponent, Tom Suozzi, who has been reduced to the old he-won’t-debate-me campaign theme in an effort to make voters aware that there still is, in fact, a race to be run. (Surely, the campaign volunteer in the chicken suit can’t be far behind.)

“The future of New York,” Spitzer said, “doesn’t belong to the armies of the status quo.”

He seemed pretty confident today that it belongs to him.