Paladino Wants A Debate, For Now

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino sent a chicken after Rick Lazio yesterday, to hammer the fact that the front-runner isn’t committing to a debate against the upstart Buffalo developer.

But Paladino might not be totally committed to a debate either.

“I’m open right now. But the day that I find out that I’ve taken a lead over him, the invitiation is gone,” Paladino told me last Friday. “Screw him. Because that’s the way he’s treating me.”

Paladino gained 10 points on Lazio in yesterday’s Siena poll, but still trails by 13 points–though Paladino insists he’s ahead among likely primary voters. (The poll was of registered Republicans, and had a large seven-point margin of error.)

Asked whether Paladino’s comment still reflects the campaign’s position, Michael Caputo had this to say yesterday afternoon:

“At this point in time, we think a debate is the way both candidates should be looking. A lot of Republican county chairs want to see how Lazio and Carl match up. A lot of them are reconsidering their position on Lazio. And we think Carl’s campaign would benefit greatly from a match-up with Lazio.”

Paladino has also criticized Lazio’s comment to YNN that it’s up to the campaign staff to decide whether to accept the offer.

“We’ve received numerous invitations from media outlets to debate, all of which are currently with scheduling,” emailed Barney Keller, a spokesman for Lazio.

Paladino Wants A Debate, For Now