MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow believes that New York Republican Carl Paladino is running “the strangest governor’s race in the country right now.”
“I joke about him seeming so angry he might Hulk out dangerously at any moment,” she explained on Wednesday, “but I think that he’s sort of cultivating that impression.”
Paladino’s anger was on display in Albany on Wednesday night, when he “nearly came to blows” with New York Post state editor Fred Dicker, accusing the reporter of being a “stalking horse” for Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo and threatening, “You send another goon to my daughter’s house and I’ll take you out, buddy.”
The previous day, Paladino had accused Cuomo of having cheated on his ex-wife, from whom he separated in 2003, but without offering any evidence. Paladono’s anger at Dicker stemmed both from the reporter’s demand that he provide proof of the claim and from the Post having sent a reporter and photographer to the home of Paladino’s own ten year old love child.
Maddow asked New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro, who did a story this week on the “tainted pasts” of several Paladino aides, whether Paladino’s angry persona is for real. “Does it seem like that’s part of a campaign message,” she asked, “or is that just who he is?”
“I think it’s pretty authentic,” Barbaro replied. “I think Carl Paladino is a regular guy who can’t suppress his anger. … Being on the phone with him is very surreal.”
“The reason I don’t think it’s cultivated is because it’s proving to be pretty dangerous,” Barbaro continued, “and it may be the thing that undoes his campaign. I mean, to be in a screaming match with a reporter while cameras are going off… That’s not what anybody, I think, wants their candidate to be doing.”
Paladino’s campaign has been largely based on anger from the start. “New Yorkers are as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more,” he yelled after he won the Republican primary on September 14, and his lawn signs invite supporters to agree, “I’m mad too, Carl!”
And according to Barbaro’s story at the Times, “His campaign manager failed to pay nearly $53,000 in federal taxes. … Another adviser has been indicted on charges of stealing more than $1 million from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s re-election bid last year. And Mr. Paladino’s campaign chairwoman left a local government position amid claims that she had steered $1 billion in public money to a politically connected investment manager.”
“Many people in the Paladino campaign do not have a conventional resume all,” Barbaro diplomatically explained to Maddow, “and that’s what has made the Paladino candidacy seem so authentic and has allowed it to connect with people in a visceral way. But there’s a lot of baggage there.”
“So much of Mr. Paladino’s direct appeal is that he’s going to clean up Albany,” Maddow commented, wondering how the allegations of corruption on the part of his aides would affect that image.
“There’s sort of a subtle genius to a lot of these Tea Party candidacies,” Barbaro suggested, “because the whole architecture and framework of them is outsiderism … so they can sustain a lot of chinks in the armor.”
After this latest blowup, however, even Paladino may be seen as having gone too far.
This video is from Mediaite, posted September 29, 2010.
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Sept. 29, 2010.