Real estate developer and 2010 Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino is on the campaign trail in New Hampshire this week in support of Newt Gingrich. Mr. Paladino spoke to The Politicker from his hotel room in Manchester last night to get his take on the primaries and his thoughts on state leadership in Albany.Though he has no official role with the Gingrich campaign, Mr. Paladino vowed to deliver New York for his candidate, who he described as “anti-establishment” and the most “huggable” in the GOP field.
Mr. Paladino traveled to New Hampshire last week with several of his advisors to meet about establishing campaign operations in New York. He hasn’t met with Mr. Gingrich or any of his national campaign staff yet.
“Just the locals, that’s all we’ve had an opportunity to speak with, the central staff has been pretty busy with the debate,” Mr. Paladino said.
Mr. Paladino shocked the Republican establishment in New York by beating former Congressman Rick Lazio for the party’s nomination in the 2010 governor’s race. He eventually lost to Governor Cuomo, but his campaign was memorable for his tendency to bring a baseball bat and a pitbull to appearances and his strong support from the Tea Party.
“I think Newt Gingrich brings a lot of what you would call Tea Party agenda to the table,” Mr. Paladino said. “Most importantly, I think what he brings to the table is the ability to run a campaign and run this nation as the people of this country so desperately need. He brings the leadership, he brings a tremendous experience in dealing with the powers that be in Washington.”
Despite his D.C. experience, Mr. Paladino thinks Mr. Gingrich is “the anti-establishment candidate” in the race. He also thinks Mr. Gingrich has other, more intangible qualities to recommend him.
“I think one of the girls in my office, they said he’s huggable, which I thought was a nice description for him,” Mr. Paladino said of Mr. Gingrich.
Mr. Paladino doesn’t feel nearly as warmly about Mitt Romney.
“He’s plastic. He looks like a deer in the headlights. He’s very light on the issues. He’s a flip flopper. He’s got this desire to do whatever it’s going to take that he can be President, he doesn’t know why necessarily. … You can feel it in the tone that comes out of him, he’s there because the establishment chose him as their candidate,” said Mr. Paladino.
Mr. Paladino says he decided to get involved in the presidential race when he saw leaders in the New York State Republican Party aligning behind Romney.
“The reason I’m with Gingrich is because it became very clear to me when I started talking to the party regulars, to the party leaders in the state, I saw that they were all jumping onto Mitt Romney. … I said, ‘The people haven’t spoken, you haven’t heard from the people that they want Mitt Romney,” Mr. Paladino said. “I’m sick of that, I’m tired of it, and for that reason, I said. ‘I’m going to get involved for the first time in my life in a national contest.’”
State Republican Party leaders may be supporting Romney, but Mr. Paladino thinks he can get Mr. Gingrich a win in New York’s Republican primary.
“I expect that I’m going to encourage our entire network to get behind Gingrich and to give him the New York primary,” Mr. Paladino said. “We’re looking to bring those people who so much desire a non-establishment working government, a non establishment leadership to take charge.”