Cuomo leaves Rose Garden

You heard it here first. We told you about the Andrew Cuomo Rose Garden strategy. The idea: stay under the radar for as long as possible, and as long as the poll numbers held up.

If you believe at least one poll, it’s time for Andrew Cuomo to leave the Rose Garden. Quinnipiac has Carl Paladino in striking distance, six points! Other polls say Cuomo still has a double-digit lead. But it’s pretty clear that Paladino, a guy the Cuomo campaign dismissed as a whacko just a few weeks ago, is suddenly a contender.

Cuomo ventured out of his office last week to pick up the endorsement of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The news conference was a good example why Andrew Cuomo has been hiding out for so long. He was asked if he voted for Mayor Bloomberg, and quickly answered, "Yes." Later his office issued a series of clarifications. So one news conference, one gaffe! Nonetheless, Cuomo is being nudged, in some cases shoved, to get out and speak up for himself. A New York Times Editorial entitled, "In Search of Mr. Cuomo," chides the Attorney General for thinking "he could coast into office without the messy inconvenience of actually campaigning." The Times even suggests that Cuomo "flash his own considerable temper" in order to prove how tough he is!

So Cuomo is getting campaign advice from the Editorial page, and is told to channel his inner Howard Beale. True, Cuomo is famous for his temper. But is he really outraged about what’s happening to ordinary New Yorkers?

In his news conference, Cuomo kept repeating the words "Albany" and "change," as if just by saying the words over and over again, the voters will buy it. Will you vote for a politician based on what another politician says? I don’t think so.

In the meantime, it’s time for Paladino to start running a campaign of substance. We’ve heard the rage, the anger. We’ve heard about the baseball bat, the antichrist, and seen the goofball cartoons. Okay, we get it. But now prove to the people of the state that you have a serious plan to change the state. Just throwing out percentages of how much government you are going to cut is not enough.

Cuomo is already on the attack, reminding voters how Paladino forwarded racist and pornographic emails, that he’s been donating money all over Albany and that he’s an insider who is "part of the problem." All’s fair in politics. Let’s see what the next set of polls bring. Perhaps the most interesting quote of the week came from, of all people, Eliot Spitzer. "The problem Andrew has is that everybody knows that behind the scenes, he is the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there," Spitzer said on CNN. "He has brass knuckles and he plays hard ball. He has a lot of enemies out there. He may not want to pretend he plays that game. He does, and he’s worse at it."

Spitzer adds he supports Cuomo. With friends like these …

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