Studies have shown that no two words in the English language are more boring than “comptroller debate.” And yet this morning’s face-off between Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer — their first of the campaign — was an exception. The hour-long debate (which streamed live on ABC 7’s website and will be televised on Sunday) was nasty from the start and stayed nasty throughout. Scott Stringer, consistently trailing in the polls, hammered away at Spitzer’s prostitution scandal and his sizable wealth, while Spitzer slammed Stringer for supporting Mayor Bloomber’s third term and for failing to accomplish anything in two decades of public office. Whether the debate helped any voters make up their minds is unclear, but it sure was fun to watch!
Here’s a video of the highlights, and a list of the thirteen harshest lines.
13. “I don’t think anyone is going to trust you, given your track record.” —Stringer.
12. “There were so many misstatements of such a grandiose order of magnitude in there, that I think we’ will respond later on.” —Spitzer, responding to a string of accusations from Stringer.
11. “Twenty years in government — which is what you have: twelve in the Assembly, the most dysfunctional Assembly in the nation, eight as borough president — what indelible mark have you left on policy?” —Spitzer.
10. “Mr. Stringer participated … in subverting democracy in giving him a third term. Mr. Stringer was there to go along to get along to give a third term.” —Spitzer, on Stringer’s opposition to term limits for Mayor Bloomberg (and all elected officials).
9. “You broke your own eggs because you engaged in illicit, illegal activity.” —Stringer, responding to Spitzer’s claim that he isn’t afraid to break some eggs.
8. “He didn’t take responsibility, he evaded it … What he did was resign because there was a federal investigation coming his way. They were going to charge him with prostitution, and they were going to charge him with money laundering.” —Stringer, on Spitzer’s resignation.
7. ”[Stringer] said he would go out and hire someone who understood the capital markets. Maybe we need somebody who understands it going in, not somebody who’s just going to hire somebody, perhaps, who might get it later on.” —Spitzer.
6. “I applaud you for getting endorsements before you had any competition … You cleared the field through backroom deals.” — Spitzer.
5. “To buy this office for $12 million — it can’t be worth that much.” —Stringer, on Spitzer’s self-financed campaign.
4. “If you had better people around you when you were running the governor’s office, perhaps they would have reined you in, but I don’t think anyone’s going to trust you given your track record.” —Stringer, making the point that it matters who you hire to advise you.
3. “Maybe you should go run for attorney general and lose to Eric Schneiderman.” —Stringer.
2. “You’re very wealthy. A lot of us aren’t.” —Stringer, on what’s in Spitzer’s hidden tax returns.
1. “It took a real governor like Andrew Cuomo to straighten out what you did.” —Stringer, on Spitzer’s governorship.
These quotes have been updated for accuracy.