Michael Grimm, the G.O.P Congressional candidate in a district that covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, declined to weigh in on G.O.P gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino in an interview this afternoon.
“As the Republican nominee, he has my support. I don’t know him really. I only met him once,” Grimm said. “I would like to get to meet him and get to know about his positions to really give full comment. I am so caught up in my race I haven’t really looked at most of the other candidates.”
Grimm is in a race with Democratic incumbent Mike McMahon that is not on most Congressional prognosticator’s radars as a seat likely to flip, but it is a district that voted for John McCain in 2008.
When asked his opinion on some of Paladino’s more flamboyant episodes–like the controversial emails he has sent, his talk about “taking a baseball bat to Albany,” and his plan to house welfare recipients in prison dorms–Grimm demurred. He instead referred to his own earlier comments about how Staten Islanders would have been after McMahon “like they were going for Frankenstein…Physically he would have been in danger” had McMahon voted for the health care bill as a way of saying that it’s possible for comments to be misunderstood.
“I personally wasn’t there when some of those things were said,” Grimm said. “I know even in my case in the heat of the moment you can use a euphemism…sometimes things can be taken out of context.”
Asked specifically to comment on Paladino’s emails, Grimm said, “I don’t know. I didn’t read those emails so it’s hard for me to comment. I haven’t read it. It would be unfair.”
Grimm paused for a moment when he tried to recall who he voted for in the primary.
“As a matter of fact, I am trying to think who I voted for,” he said. “I know it was either Paladino or Lazio. I think I voted for Lazio.”
Grimm was in Washington to attend a breakfast and lunch for the “Young Guns” program, which enables the National Republican Campaign Committee to identify promising challengers and connect them with donors and strategy ideas. Grimm was just added to the program. Grimm said he spent the days meeting with different Political Action Committees and collecting checks from various G.O.P members of the House, and getting “some [policy] information so we can build our positions and our platforms.”
Grimm said he spent several months helping with the clean-up after the World Trade Center attacks–including some time volunteering at Fresh Kills landfill looking for remains–and he said he was pleased that the 9/11 Health Bill passed, but wishes it went further.
“There is still work to be done. I would amend the bill to include cancer,” he said. “I know some guys coming down with some rare forms of cancer and what they have in common is 9/11.”
He added, “Those Republicans that crossed the aisle should be commended.”