"If a guy says you have no cojones, how do you punch him back, call him an a--hole?"
That's the question New York's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo apparently asked his staff during a secret meeting yesterday. Cuomo is trying to figure out how to respond to Tea Party-backed Republican Carl Paladino, whose brash style seems to infuriate the poll-leading (54-38) Cuomo.
The New York Daily News reports that Cuomo held the the meeting after Paladino issued a taunting letter that questioned Cuomo's manhood, ripped his father's (former NY Gov. Mario) performance as governor, and tried to coax him into a debate.
"So Andrew, for the first time in your life be a man," Paladino wrote. "Don't hide behind Daddy's coattails even though he pulled strings to advance your career every step of your way. Come out and debate like a man."
But this could just be the beginning. According the Daily News, Paladino promised yesterday that more attacks were coming, including "some personal things to illustrate to people that this man does not have the capability" to be governor.
That might infuriate Cuomo even more. "We have all this stuff [on Paladino] and we're on the defensive," Cuomo griped after reading the letter, according to a Daily News campaign source.
Thus far, Cuomo's campaign has taken the approach of not engaging with Paladino. Cuomo continues to refuse Paladino's requests for a debate and his campaign routinely offers "no comment" to the media regarding Paladino's statements. But after Paladino's letter and last night's meeting, Cuomo's camp is apparently reconsidering that approach.
Still, they must not have reached a final decision. Cuomo's campaign respond to the reports of the secret meeting the same way it usually does: "Cuomo's campaign refused to comment on the private powwow."