NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) – Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino says he would get state legislators to cooperate with him by telling them “don’t mess with me.”

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports

He also called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a “criminal.” He has previously accused the powerful Democrat of running the government like a dictatorship.

Paladino spoke Tuesday at a breakfast forum sponsored by Crain’s New York Business.

The Buffalo developer has sought to cast himself as the angry insurgent. But he twice told the audience of business leaders that they were hearing from a “kinder and gentler Carl.”

The Manhattan appearance followed a tumultuous week for the tea party Republican.

Last week Paladino had a confrontation with a New York Post reporter and sought to backpedal from a personal attack he lobbed at Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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