Three days after an unusually vicious comptroller debate, Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer were at it again on Monday night. The pair barely got through the first question before Spitzer declared that “the political establishment, with Scott’s support and participation” handed Mayor Bloomberg a third term. The debate focused less on the comptroller’s duties, and more on character bashing (though their barbs still weren’t as nasty or personal as the Post’s average “Love Gov” cover). Stringer told the former governor he had to step down, “because you were under federal investigation, because you laundered money. And that’s the truth,” adding, “you just don’t know right from wrong.”
“Mr. Stringer, you’re throwing terms around which you do not understand and where you misstate the facts, and I think you should be better than that,” Spitzer responded. “This campaign should be better than that.”
It appears that it isn’t. They went on to reprise many of the attacks from their first debate, and even argued over who had the more flattering New York Times editorial. Stringer accused Spitzer of using vast wealth to fund his campaign (“I didn’t take money from special interests. My money is my own,” Spitzer shot back), and tried to use the “Sheriff of Wall Street” moniker against him. “This job is not being the Lone Ranger or the sheriff, it’s about building those coalitions,” said Stringer, adding “otherwise all this office is is another soap box, and we’ve had enough of soap boxes.”
Spitzer argued that Stringer failed to make a mark in twenty years of public service. “The public doesn’t know who he is or what he’s done for a reason,” he said.
The pair did briefly find some common ground during the “lightning round.” Both candidates have gambled, and claim to always tip waiters and taxi drivers; neither has tried out Citi Bikes or cronuts. They split again when asked, “Is controller the most exciting job you think you’ll ever have?” Stringer gave an enthusiastic “Yes!” After a pause, Spitzer answered, “You know, I don’t think I can answer that question. It’s a very exciting job. I’ll leave it at that.”