Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal hosted a morning breakfast forum between Gov. Paterson and his two predecessors, former Gov.'s Eliot Spitzer and George Pataki. It was a meeting that rivaled the Yalta Conference—not for historical significance, but certainly for posture and barbs. The three once and present leaders of the Empire State were friendly with one another, discussing political decisions, regrets, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, whom they all had comments for. Some highlights of the forum:
- Spitzer was asked about a line in his inaugural address in which he said that New York had slept like Rip Van Winkle during the Pataki years. He responded kindly, saying Pataki "was always a very good client when I was attorney general." Pataki quickly cut in, "There's a lot I could say," as the audience laughed.
- When asked what they would do differently, Paterson said after a lull, "Appoint myself to the United States Senate." The moderator then asked Spitzer if Paterson was the right choice for lieutenant governor, to which he responded, "He was also the right choice for the United States Senate,” confirming speculation that Spitzer had planned to appoint Paterson to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat if she had been elected president.
- Pataki and Spitzer argued about the effectiveness of President Obama's economic stimulus program, which prompted Paterson to joke, “I feel like I’m at the West Side Tennis Club.”
- Paterson and Spitzer both called Paladino unfit for office. Paterson said: “He transferred emails back and forth that were racist, homophobic, misogynist. These are the kinds of things we don’t need in politics. I never heard an apology. I never heard accountability.” Pataki was wary about Paladino, who once called him a "degenerate idiot." He cautiously said he'd support him, but only if Paladino can “turn anger into a positive agenda of change” and demonstrate “the demeanor and character we want for a governor.” “It comes down to who is going to be a better leader for the state. I expect that it will be him, but I’m not sure yet,” Pataki said.