Cuomo Rallies Women, Takes Paladino’s Big Question

Andrew Cuomo’s fall base-building tour continued this morning with a stop in sunny White Plains, where he held a rally with dozens of pro-choice women on the steps of the Westchester County Center.

Cuomo was introduced by Planned Parenthood Advocacy of New York President Tracey Brooks, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, and a surprise guest, upstate Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.

Like other events of late, the focus was largely on the fitness of Cuomo’s opponent, Carl Paladino.

“Women’s reproductive freedom is not an issue of partisanship,” said Scozzafava, the Republican iconoclast who endorsed Democrat Bill Owens after pulling out of the closely-watched special election in New York’s 23rd District last year. “Anyone that threatens women’s reproductive freedoms or health care is not fit to hold the governor’s position in this great state.”

Cuomo gave what has become a familiar stump speech in recent weeks, casting Paladino as “extreme” and recounting his “frightening positions” on education, job training, and immigration. Cuomo said moderates on both sides of the aisle support a woman’s right to choose.

(Lowey made a slightly more personal case for Cuomo, who used to live near her in Westchester. “When Andrew was 12 years old and lived around the corner from me, he repaired cars like no one in the neighborhood. Anyone who can repair cars like Andrew could, can even repair the State of New York,” she said.)

After the rally, a reporter from the Daily News asked Cuomo to respond “head-on” to Paladino’s persistent allegations that he once had an extramarital affair.

“Two things,” Cuomo answered. “Number one, I’m not going to get into the gutter with my opponent. We’ve gone through this before. And I also think at this point New Yorkers are smart and they’re a good judge of character and they get it. And I think what they’ve gotten with Carl Paladino is when you listen to what he says you better take it with two grains of salt.”

“Two grains of salt” seemed to be a new catchphrase for Cuomo, as he used it a handful of times to cast doubt on Paladino’s assertions.

Cuomo said he had “better things to do” than watch Paladino’s speech last night, which called for candidates to talk about the issues–but only after Paladino repeated his insinuations with the now-famous “prowess” line.

“If he wanted to talk about real issues, you know what my suggestion would be: talk about real issues,” Cuomo said. “It’s very simple. If he wanted to wage a substantive campaign, he would have.”

“There has not been a substantive proposal. It’s all about name-calling, et cetera. I think it’s demeaning for him, but it’s also more importantly demeaning for the people of the state. Because they have real issues and they want a real debate. And they want to understand what different campaigns are posing for their future.”

And Cuomo seemed satisfied that New Yorkers were starting to see Paladino the way he does.

“But I really do believe–because I’ve heard it all across this state–New Yorkers may not follow the nuances of everyone’s tax policy, but New Yorkers know people, they get people, and they’ve watched Carl Paladino now for months. And they’ve watched him with his fits and his starts and they get him. They get him. And they really do get that when you listen to him, you really do need two grains of salt for every sentence he utters.”

Cuomo Rallies Women, Takes Paladino’s Big Question