- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

NEW YORK With only a dozen days left until the general election, liberal Democratic candidate Mark Green has a commanding lead over his rival, Michael R. Bloomberg, but the billionaire media mogul is closing the gap.
A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday shows Mr. Green, who holds the city office of public advocate, ahead by 51 percent to 35 percent. Thirteen percent are undecided. Last June, the same poll had him ahead of his opponent 62 percent to 20 percent.
"There's no evidence that Bloomberg can get it down much further without doing something in the last couple of weeks," said poll director Maurice Carroll in an interview. "If [New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani] should endorse him and campaign vigorously for him, that might turn it around."
Mr. Carroll compared the Republican mayor's reticence in this campaign with his last-minute endorsement of former Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994. Mr. Giuliani campaigned vigorously for Mr. Cuomo, who lost the race to Republican challenger George E. Pataki.
The mayor, enjoying enormous popularity due to his forceful response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has not endorsed Mr. Bloomberg, a former Democrat who became a Republican less than a year ago. Why he has not is a mystery to most political analysts. At his daily press briefing yesterday, Mr. Guiliani dealt with the question by saying he would not be rushed into a decision about the mayor's race.
Yesterday, Mr. Pataki threw his support to Mr. Bloomberg.
In the Quinnipiac poll conducted among likely voters, white voters supported Mr. Green 47 percent to 42 percent, while black voters backed him 66 percent to 19 percent. The candidates ran about even among Hispanics.
"In New York, black voters usually make the difference between winning and losing," said Mr. Carroll.
The two men have become increasingly aggressive in their speech and tactics. The Bloomberg campaign, up until now assuming an above-the-fray approach, took off the gloves this week when the Republican media magnate described Mr. Green as "a very liberal, leftist kind of guy."
Then Mr. Bloomberg's senior adviser, William Cunningham, accused Mr. Green of having "applauded" Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in one of his books.
Mr. Cunningham was apparently referring to a passage from "Winning Back America," a 1982 book written by Mr. Green in which he accused former president Ronald Reagan of rewriting history.
The passage reads: "At his first press conference, Reagan said he knew of 'no leader of the Soviet Union since the revolution' whose aim was not world revolution, a view which ignores a Soviet leader named Joseph Stalin, who pushed for 'socialism in one country' instead of Leon Trotsky's approach of 'world revolution.'"
Asked if he was accusing the Democratic candidate of being a Stalinist, Mr. Cunningham responded. "You'll have to ask him, but in criticizing Ronald Reagan, he applauded Josef Stalin."
Mr. Green brushed off the attack: "I don't comment when kneecappers excavate old quotes," he said, a reference to Mr. Cunningham's recent promise that he would kneecap the Democratic candidate if he went negative.
But a spokesman for Mr. Green, Joe DePlasco, said the charges were indicative of the Republican's "childish and desperate behavior."
"Given [Mr. Bloombergs] comments and the actions of his campaign, he's not in any shape to catch up," the Green spokesman said. "With each step he takes he shows New Yorkers that he doesn't understand the city."
The Green forces responded by pointing to remarks in Mr. Bloomberg's 1997 autobiography, "Bloomberg by Bloomberg." The passage cited said that Mr. Bloomberg began dealing in the South African market "when F.W. de Klerk started dismantling the racist practices" even though "United States policies still requested restraint at the time."
The media tycoon's campaign responded by saying that Mr. Bloomberg only did business in South Africa after Nelson Mandela came to power.

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