It did not start out as a good day for Eliot Spitzer as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand engaged in a little political payback yesterday – endorsing Spitzer's 100% prostitute-free rival, Scott Stringer, in the race for City Comptroller.
The bad blood goes back to 2010 -- a year after Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate by Spitzer's successor, David Paterson. Speaking to an upstate radio station from his self-imposed political exile, Spitzer then steamrolled the state's junior senator, claiming her "views on issues are either wrong or too malleable."
Perhaps hoping to make Spitzer malleable, Gillibrand noted in her endorsement press release that Stringer has the "temperament and judgment" to be the next comptroller. Piling on, the leaders of three women's groups held a press conference with Stringer to endorse him – with the head of the city's NOW chapter pointedly remarking: "If we've learned anything about Eliot Spitzer, it's what he says and he does are two different things."
Ouch! So what does a poor ex-governor do? Likely smarting from all of those attacks, Spitzer last night dramatically rebooted his ad campaign with a new 60-second spot. In Spitzer's odd first ad, we didn't' hear from him – or even hear his name. It was an exercise in political denial.
The new spot is a far bolder move from Spitzer's ad maven, Jimmy Siegel, in which the Sherriff of Wall Street blurts out at the start of the ad: "Look, I failed. Big time. I hurt a lot of people." With a shot of the Empire State Building and images of New Yorkers who Spitzer supposedly helped, the music swells dramatically like out of a Batman movie. The message is that maybe BatSpitzer screwed up (big time) but hey, he's still BatSpitzer and don't we want Commissioner Gordon to summon him back to take on the baddies?
With mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner issuing his own semi-mea culpa video, the new vogue in New York politics is saying you're (sort of) sorry but that you're coming back to the arena. And on a subway ride with our Josh Robin, Spitzer this morning took some pointed digs at Stringer's record from when he was a State Assemblyman. Trying to bring a little bit of sorrow and a smidge of self-comptrol with him back to Gotham, BatSpitzer has returned.