In a highly unusual move, a top advisor to Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino expressed concern about the campaign's direction Tuesday in an exclusive interview on NY1's "Inside City Hall."
Key strategist Roger Stone says the Buffalo businessman should be focusing on the issues and not the personal life of his rival, Andrew Cuomo.
"I just think that they have gotten a little afield here and the campaign needs to dial back to Carl Paladino's very specific issue prescription for the state. That is what needs to be debated," Stone said. "It's fair to say that this is a detour and I think the voters and certainly people in the party and those who want change in New York want to get this debate back to issues."
The comments come after Paladino recently accused his Democratic opponent of infidelity, and faced off last week with a New York Post reporter over the explosive charge.
"Any discussion of extramarital affairs, divorces, girlfriends -- that’s not what voters want to hear. This state is in a death spiral," Stone said.
Stone’s concerns were also echoed Tuesday by Paladino’s former running mate, Tom Ognibene, on the "Wise Guys” segment of “Inside City Hall.”
"Carl has to begin to talk about what the people need in this state -- economic growth, jobs. Those are the things that he should concentrate on," said Ognibene, who narrowly lost the Republican primary for lieutenant governor last month.
Paladino, meanwhile, did get specific at a forum held by Crain's New York Business earlier in the day.
While addressing the city's business leaders, he vowed to break up the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, end guaranteed state pensions and slash state spending by a fifth.
Overshadowing those details was his calling New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a criminal, who he says he's not apt to work with even if it leads to a partial government shutdown.
"Gentlemen and ladies of the Legislature, if you don't give me a budget by March 31st, except for public safety and health, our government will shut down. And it will be on your backs," Paladino said. "Don't think that's a bluff. Google me. I don't bluff."
Paladino is campaigning on the self-proclaimed "mad as hell" theme. It's a notion that worries some voters who are wondering if the Republican candidate is too angry to be an effective leader.
"The people of New York don't want someone to commiserate with them. They want someone to reform the system. And fix it. And get the economy running," Cuomo said.
In response to both Stone's and Ognibene's comments on "Inside City Hall," Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said, "We take their counsel very seriously."