NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Eliot Spitzer, whose 2008 resignation as New York’s governor amid a prostitution scandal provided no shortage of fuel for gibes to late-night TV comics, ventured into the lion’s den Friday, appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Spitzer appeared on Leno’s show in California less than 24 hours after a four-day flurry of canvassing for 3,750 valid petitions to run for city comptroller – submitting more than 27,000 signatures to the city Board of Elections late Thursday night ahead of a midnight deadline.
And Leno, who has poked at Spitzer’s reentrance to New York City’s politics since the former attorney general announced Sunday he was running to be the city’s comptroller, asked him straight up: “Why enter at the 11th hour?”
Spitzer said that after all he’d done in the past five years he finally thought, “You know what, there’s a position there, which I’ve written about, thought about, the Comptroller’s position, from which I think I can actually serve,” he said. “And I said to myself I want to contribute through public service.”
Leno’s show has provided a stage before for candidates launching unexpected campaigns: Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his ultimately successful run for California governor on Leno’s set in 2003. The program also has been a memorable forum for public figures’ atonement moments, as when actor Hugh Grant made his first TV appearance after he was arrested with a prostitute in 1995.
The nationally televised appearance came a day after Spitzer’s goal of a political comeback following his fall from grace continues on.
The disgraced former governor assured his spot on the primary ballot for New York City Comptroller and Democratic opponent Scott Stringer has decided not to challenge the nominating petitions.
“It is an important statement to those who said it was not possible,” Spitzer told reporters including WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane after submitting his petitions.