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Spitzer, Stringer Get Personal At Comptroller Candidates’ Debate

Stringer To Spitzer: 'You Laundered Money, And That's The Truth'
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Eliot Spitzer, Scott Stringer

Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer. (Credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City comptroller candidates Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer traded heated barbs Monday night in their second debate.

In the forum at the CUNY Graduate Center, Manhattan Borough President Stringer went on attack against the former governor, accusing him of being unethical and suggesting he was involved in unlawful activity when he resigned as governor.

“You had to leave, and I’ll tell you why you had to leave. Because you left because you were under federal investigation, because you laundered money. And that’s the truth,” Stringer said. “And the reason you laundered money was because you were trying to manipulate the banking laws so people wouldn’t uncover your activity.”

He also accused Spitzer of trying to win the election with money.

“The reality is that your campaign is about coming in and trying to buy an election, and that’s not what’s going to happen in this city,” Stringer said.

Spitzer in turn accused Stringer of hurling low and disrespectful blows.

“Mr. Stringer, you’re throwing terms around which you do not understand and where you misstate the facts, and I think you should be better than that,” he said. “I think this campaign should be better than that.”

He also questioned Stringer’s call for a new generation of leaders, arguing that Stringer did not represent any new generation.

“How old are you?” Spitzer asked Stringer.

“You’re not the prosecutor night, thank you,” Stringer replied.

“We’re basically the same age,” Spitzer said. “For the 20 years in government you’ve had, I’ve had 10. I think a new generation is not the issue.”

“We represent a new generation of leadership. The people supporting are ready to have a role in this government – real Democrats,” Stringer said.

Spitzer also questioned Stringer’s ethics.

“I got into this race July 7. I didn’t have time to raise money. I believe in competition – something that you clearly didn’t want, which is why you cut back room deals to get everybody else out of this race,” he said.

But in closing statements, both candidates made an appeal to the middle class.

“I may not be the celebrity candidate, but I am the candidate that’s worked in each of these communities for the past 20 years and I’ve never embarrassed my constituents,” Stringer said.

“I stood up for the middle class on Wall Street,” Spitzer said. “I stood up for the middle class when I fully funded education in the city of New York. I stood up for the middle class when we funded the health care delivery systems in the city of New York.”

Spitzer has been leading in the polls, and in recent weeks, Stringer has decided to go negative — even breaking a vow not to raise the ex-governor’s prostitution scandal, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported earlier this month.

Unlike the mayor’s race, with Anthony Weiner recently revealed as “Carlos Danger” the sexting king, there are no new, salacious details about the other lynchpin of love, Spitzer. And so his opponent is trying to re-tarnish him for patronizing prostitutes five years ago.

Spitzer also has been the target of a whispering campaign — that because his wife, Silda Wall, has not yet shown her face in the race, questions about his personal life, it appears, are fair game.

CBS 2 is your station for Campaign 2013, including key debates. Spitzer and Stringer will square off again live on CBS 2 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22.

The Republican candidates for mayor will square off for their first debate on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m.

The debates are officially sanctioned by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, for candidates who received public money to run for office.

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