Third Spitzer-Stringer Debate Features More Personal Attacks, Singing

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With two rather nasty debates under their belts, it's no surprise that things got heated during Thursday's showdown between Scott Stringer and Eliot Spitzer, but this time the comptroller candidates delved even deeper into the former governor's alleged misdeeds. One of the toughest lines aimed at Spitzer actually came from moderator Marcia Kramer, not his opponent. "Mr. Spitzer, you were an assistant district attorney, you also served as attorney general," noted the CBS 2 reporter. "I'm curious, if you'd been presented with the same fact set involving Emperor's Club V.I.P. and Client 9, which was yourself, would you have filed any charges?" Of course, Spitzer declared that he wouldn't have charged himself, but Stringer pounced. "This election is about giving someone a seat when he violated the trust of the people in his last office," he said. "Spitzer gets elected, we've basically given a 'get out of jail' card to all of the people who say, 'Well, he got away with it. Why can't I?'"

Not content to merely bash Spitzer for frequenting prostitutes, Stringer said he's standing by his accusations of money laundering – though the New York Times reported earlier this week that the charge is untrue. "Eliot Spitzer broke many laws. He admitted it himself," said Stringer. "The fact that we're even having a discussion about an ex-governor who resigned because he was part of a federal criminal probe and now he's running to be the chief banker of the city when he absolutely tried to segregate payments to avoid federal detection ... there's just something wrong with that."

Stringer also called on Spitzer to release more tax returns in light of a Times report yesterday about his family's charitable trust investing in funds incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Spitzer, who has already defended the investments, complained that his opponent "maligned my dad's foundation" and said the trust "is pristine, it is perfect, it does everything, it pays every penny in taxes that it should." He added that he was glad Stringer asked the question because "once again it shows you repeat things that are clearly false."

The debate did include some lighter (and weirder) moments. "Can you sing me your favorite song, even a few bars?" asked Kramer. "We can be heroes, just for one day," Stringer recited slowly. "Can you sing it for me?" Kramer pressed. "I just did," joked Stringer. Spitzer didn't even try to sing the lyrics of his favorite song – "Land of Hope and Dreams by Bruce" – but he used the awkward moment to get a laugh later. When asked to say something nice about each other, both candidates made the dubious claim that they were friends, and will remain so after the campaign. "I'm glad he got the first question about needing to sing and he didn't, because then it was easier for me not to sing," said Spitzer. "I look forward to joining him in a drink and a duet at some point."