Eliot Spitzer would later say he doesn’t want to engage hecklers who bring up his prostitution scandal during his newly launched campaign for New York City comptroller.
But on this day, his first of campaigning, he couldn’t resist. The heckler was Joey Boots, the frequent caller into the Howard Stern Show. As Spitzer was mobbed here by reporters outside of an entrance to a New York City subway station, Boots joined the throng, telling Spitzer he was a “disgrace.”
He asked Spitzer if he was late to his petition signature-gathering rally because he “left his black socks on,” a nod to an infamous rumour that spread after he was identified as “Client 9.”
“Very clever,” Spitzer replied through the crowd.
In Day One of Spitzer’s hastily formed campaign, he seemed to genuinely enjoy his hour-long adventure with reporters — which ended, somehow, with him escaping, alone, in a cab near 18th Street.
When he made it out of the initial throng of reporters, Spitzer led them down the edge of Union Square Park, where he stopped to talk to voters who were already ready — less than 24 hours after he announced his candidacy — to throw their support behind him.
“If you don’t love politics, you can’t do it,” Spitzer told reporters. “You can’t stand here surrounded by you folks if you don’t enjoy it.
“But is that why I’m doing it? No. I’m doing it for one reason: The happiest days of my life, the most I could contribute, were when I was in office. … That is what I desire to do. And if the public will accept me back, I want to do that.”
“You’re doing great!” one supporter shouted. “You’re doing great!”
Much of his conversation with reporters, aside from if and how he has changed over the past five years, revolved around comparisons to New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. But Spitzer rejected both the comparison and the suggestion that he decided to run because of the success of politicians like Weiner, who has thus far successfully weathered a past scandal to return to favourable poll ratings in his own race.
Spitzer has a point. He has portrayed his campaign as one that got its start only in the last “48 hours,” something that is a clear contrast with the seeds Weiner carefully laid before commencing his run.
Spitzer said that he called Arthur Klebanoff, the publisher of his forthcoming book, “Protecting Capitalism: Case By Case,” Sunday afternoon with the news that he’d be running. He told Klebanoff that he didn’t want to interfere with the book’s publication, and that he wouldn’t run if that were the case.
“He said, ‘Go for it,'” Spitzer said.
Spitzer then took the lingering group of reporters on a walk along the Union Square Greenmarket, where the voters he encountered provided a glimpse of how Spitzer could win his race. For one, Spitzer has name recognition and star status — which is all the more important in a down-ballot, normally low-profile race like city comptroller.
Andrew Cote, who runs a honey stand in the Greenmarket, hadn’t paid attention to the race before hearing of Spitzer’s intentions to run. After Spitzer sampled and bought some of his honey, that was enough to earn his vote. But Cote explained that he still admires Spitzer and thinks highly of him.
“He’s clearly a man of impeccable taste,” Cote quipped in an interview. “He’s a very intelligent man, too. He has an incredible track record, and I think he’s learned from the mistake he did make.”
Here’s video of Spitzer tasting honey:
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