Lazio Rolls Out Rangel Videos, Criticizes Cuomo for Coming (and Going)

Rick Lazio’s campaign is having some fun with footage from Congressman Charlie Rangel’s birthday bash last night.

The campaign has rushed out three quick web videos about the event, and, of course, singled out Andrew Cuomo for showing up to support the embattled congressman.

At a sparsely-attended press conference on the fifth floor of the Park Lane Helmsley Hotel this afternoon, Mr. Lazio tried to get a little free airtime for the spots.

“Instead of doing a proud walk as attorney general walking into the Plaza Hotel, and not being afraid of being caught, instead it looks more like a perp walk,” Mr. Lazio said, as he directed reporters attention to watch the first video on a television monitor to his right, which was hooked up to the laptop of one of his aides.

(As it happens, the direction was a little premature. The two television reporters in attendance asked Mr. Lazio to repeat the line because their cameramen had already panned away from him.)

The video showed Mr. Cuomo leaving the event through a subway passage and declining to take a question from a Lazio aide.

“This is somebody who is trying to slide out the back door because he knows it’s the wrong thing to do,” said Mr. Lazio. (As I noted earlier, Mr. Cuomo’s exit wasn’t exactly unique; all of the other statewide elected officials, and the mayor, left without speaking to reporters.)

The second video spliced footage of other top Demorats–collected by a Lazio aide last night–saying they supported Mr. Rangel, with more clips of Luke Russert announcing that Mr. Rangel was on trial for allegedly not paying his taxes.

The third one took advantage a slip-up by emcee David Paterson. “He’s going to close down the fight to rid the government of corruption,” said the governor, who was trying to cheer on his would-be successor as a “closer,” but got a little tripped up by the analogy. It also included the quote from Mr. Russert, along with some footage of Mr. Cuomo’s remarks, which praised the congressman for delivering for his district and the state.

Mr. Lazio conceded that Mr. Rangel had done some good work in Congress, where the two served together as part of New York’s delegation.

“I take nothing away from Charlie Rangel’s accomplishments and without a doubt there are things Charlie Rangel has done to be commended for,” Mr. Lazio said.

Mr. Lazio focused his remarks on Mr. Cuomo, who unveiled his own ethics ad this morning. Mr. Lazio said the combination of the fundraiser and the ad sent the message “Party On” to Albany.

Asked about the fact that Mr. Rangel hasn’t actually been convicted of anything, Mr. Lazio said: “If our ethics standard in Albany or Washington is who’s been convicted of a criminal offense, we’re in trouble.”

While the press conference might help the cash-strapped campaign get their videos up on the airwaves–without having to spend precious resources on an actual ad buy–it also illusrated the difficulty the campaign has had in ginning up interest in the press. Before the event, one of the t.v. reporters asked her cameraman to get a shot of the room, to highlight how few reporters were on hand.

“Republicans have zero credibility considering that Rick Lazio – their party’s own standard bearer – directed tens of thousands of dollars to Congressman Rangel when he was a Wall Street lobbyist,” said the state Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs in a reponse, referencing $20,000 in campaign contributions given by JP Morgan to Mr. Rangel during Mr. Lazio’s employ there. Lazio Rolls Out Rangel Videos, Criticizes Cuomo for Coming (and Going)