I’m Right, You’re Wrong: Ed Koch vs. Al D’Amato

Maer Roshan: It’s seven days before what could be the closest election since 1960. Either of you brave enough to predict a winner?

Al D’Amato: I can predict, but I wouldn’t bet a dime on it. I think the only thing we can be sure of is that it will be one of the closest electoral counts ever. We could end up with a situation where Maine or Nebraska, the only states where you can split up the electoral vote, might decide the election. If you forced me, I’d bet on Bush. The momentum’s on his side. People just don’t like Gore.

M.R.: What do you think, Ed?

Ed Koch: Well, I have a lot of respect for Al’s acumen in this area. He served as the chairman of the Senate Campaign Committee, so he knows the numbers. I don’t know the numbers. But I do know Gore will win. The Democrats will take back the House and the Senate. And Hillary will destroy Lazio! I honestly believe there will be a clean Democratic sweep. Why? Because the Republicans are so damn cocky! Bush and his ilk think they deserve to win as a birthright.

M.R.: You’ve both predicted that Nader’s numbers would plummet as the election nears. Instead, his support seems to have grown.

Al: You just wait and see! The Nader vote will wash out on Election Day, because people will ask themselves, “Why am I wasting my vote?”

Ed: I agree. There’s too much at stake for symbolism.

M.R.: Ed, if it’s true that the issues in this election favor the Democrats, why is Gore lagging behind a one-and-a-half-term Republican governor with a dubious record? Is he just a lousy candidate?

Ed: Well, I wouldn’t say he’s a lousy candidate. But too often he comes off like this nerdy smart-aleck kid in the classroom who is constantly putting up his hand and embarrassing you because you don’t know as much as he does. You just want to smack him. On the other side you have Bush, who thinks he can just coast into the Oval Office.

Al: Oh, please! It’s unfair to attack George Bush as unqualified. The man is in his second term as governor of Texas! Look at Bill Clinton. He was governor of Arkansas. Arkansas!

Ed: Bush is a lightweight, Al! But when he loses, which he will, he should mount a campaign to take advantage of an obscure constitutional provision, adopted when Texas joined the Union, that allows it to be divided into five smaller states. Then Texas will have ten senators and Bush will have his revenge.

M.R.: Here in New York, Lazio took a big hit last week over a phone campaign that tried to link Hillary to the bombing of the Cole.

Ed: Stupid move. Lazio and the state Republicans are hip-deep in sleaze, and this whole episode highlights their desperation. If he could, Lazio would pass out flyers alleging that she’s a serial killer! And people are going to punish him with a bigger defeat than anyone expects.

Al: You’re wrong, Ed! I agree that the Cole thing hurts him a bit. But in the end, Lazio’ll squeak by. It all depends on voter turnout. If the minority community votes in big numbers, Lazio is finished. But the polls I’ve seen indicate that Hillary’s support is soft.

M.R.: I know this is the first campaign in many years in which you haven’t been involved, Senator. How will you spend Election Night?

Al: Laughs. Ed and I are having dinner together at one of our favorite restaurants like we do every Election Night, and this time we won’t have a worry in the world. It’s a relief not to be running for anything. Ed and I have been through a lot together. I remember one Election Night, when I ran against Abrams, I really thought I’d lose. Ed was with me, of course. I was really depressed. I said, “Ed, don’t worry about me; just take care of Mama.”

Ed: I remember that night. Al was convinced he would lose. I knew better.

M.R.: Did you have any Election Day superstitions?

Ed: I tried not to step on black cats.

Al: Laughs. I had lots. Every Election Day, I went through the same ritual. I got up early in the morning, went to my polling place, and voted early. Then I went to church and prayed for myself. This year, I’m sleeping in. I will vote. I will go to Mass because my daughter will expect to see me there. Then I will have a nice, leisurely breakfast, go see a few friends, and then come and meet my friend Ed. We’ll have a wonderful dinner and pity the poor blokes who are still in the game!

I’m Right, You’re Wrong: Ed Koch vs. Al D’Amato