In a last ditch effort to save his floundering gubernatorial bid, Andrew Cuomo is turning to some old time religion. No, the Roman Catholic isn’t going to church. He’s going to Israel. “Gee, a few weeks before the primary, he’s down in the polls, so where does Andy go?” wonders a staffer for Carl McCall, the New York state comptroller and the Democratic frontrunner for the gubernatorial nomination. Cuomo is in a tight spot. He lost out on the endorsement of Sen. Chuck Schumer, whose pull with the New York Jewish community is great. So now Cuomo is doing the only thing he knows how. Pander.
He sent a letter (via fax) to Secretary of State Colin Powell, calling on him to add the Palestinian Authority to the United States’ list of foreign terrorist organizations. McCall had already called on the Bush Administration to do that months ago.
This is the second trip Cuomo has taken to Israel this campaign season. He traveled to the Holy Land in April, about the time he was attempting to win the Democratic Party’s endorsement. But it went to McCall, and Cuomo is now trying to get on the September 10 primary ballot through a petition drive. While he’s in Israel, Cuomo has announced plans to meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and has lined up a visit to Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, the site of a terrorist bombing last week that killed seven people, five of them Americans.
Rev. Al Sharpton wants to run for president on the Democratic ticket. But in order to run, he needs money. And while he has a decent donor base in New York City, he’s looking to expand that base a bit more. So it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise that Sharpton paid his own way to Chicago this week to stand at the site where a mob stomped to death two men last week. Standing there with several area ministers, Sharpton explained his presence was about being even-handed. “If this had been a white mob, we would have all been there,” said Sharpton. “The fact that it is a black mob makes it morally inexcusable for us not to be here as well. We must be against mob violence no matter what the color of the mob.”
Nowhere near Sharpton was Rev. Jesse Jackson, who happens to be a resident of Chicago. And therein lies the nub. “Al was here trying to poach money out of Jesse’s hen house,” says a Chicago-based Democratic political consultant. “So he spent an hour at the mob site and the rest of the day meeting with Chicago donors to Jesse’s projects and Jesse Junior. It was a ballsy move.”
It’s not as if those Jackson backers have anywhere else to put their money. Jackson the elder has no plans and no chance of running for president again. And his son, while interested in pursuing higher office, is setting his sights on the Senate seat now occupied by Republican Peter Fitzgerald.
“If these people want to see an African-American run [for president], the guy who probably is going to do it is Sharpton. So support him. That was the message,” says the Democratic operative.
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