- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

NEW YORK Andrew M. Cuomo surprised New Yorkers yesterday by folding his campaign for governor just one week before the Democratic primary and saying he would support his rival, H. Carl McCall.
The announcement by the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development came in the wake of a new Quinnipiac College poll that showed him trailing Mr. McCall by 22 percentage points.
At an extraordinary news conference, state and city Democrats vowed to heal the party breach that goes back to last year's Democratic mayoral primary race in which charges of racism between candidates played a nasty part. Mr. McCall, the state comptroller, is black.
Standing beside his old boss, former President Bill Clinton who did not endorse him in the race Mr. Cuomo, 44, who had never before run for public office, conceded he had made mistakes in the campaign.
"When you try to communicate too many ideas, sometimes you wind up communicating nothing," he said. "And in part the campaign did that and we fell behind in the polls in July and August. It was my campaign and I am accustomed to leadership. I accept full responsibility for the way the campaign was run."
Mr Cuomo said campaign advisers told him to "go negative" if he wanted to catch up.
"They believed that we could run negative ads and actually make up the difference. That is something I don't want to do and will not do," he said.
Yesterday, Charlie King, Mr. Cuomo's black running mate for lieutenant governor, also threw his support behind Mr. McCall.
Mr. Cuomo's own internal polls had shown his support slipping sharply, but the crisis point appeared to be reached Monday when Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton marched happily with his opponent in New York City's West Indian Day parade. While she did not endorse Mr. McCall, she avoided Mr. Cuomo during the campaign.
As of late yesterday, Mr. McCall said he had not heard from Mr. Cuomo and would not comment on reports that Mr. Clinton had brokered a deal for the Cuomo departure.
Earlier reports indicated that Mr. Cuomo had insisted on a concession for leaving the race, namely that he be assured of Mr. McCall's support in a 2006 gubernatorial run. "There have been no plans, no discussions about what role he'll play," said Mr. McCall.
The son of former Democratic Gov. Mario M. Cuomo arrived a half-hour late for a scheduled 1 p.m. news conference at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The room was jammed with press and supporters, including members of the Cuomo and Kennedy families. Mr. Cuomo's wife, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, is a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel congratulated the former candidate for his "courage" in stepping aside. The Harlem congressman, who along with the Rev. Al Sharpton is supporting Mr. McCall, in recent weeks had called for Mr. Cuomo to withdraw in the interests of party unity.
Mr. McCall, 60, has the support of most state party officials, who see him as the candidate with the best chance of defeating Republican Gov. George E. Pataki.
Mr. Rangel said the McCall campaign "will give every one of you a sense of recognizing how much more important it is to be a victorious Democrat than wondering whether or not you could have won a primary."
Mr. Clinton said, "Today is the day you should be very proud of Andrew."
"We have a chance now, if we unite and if we embrace a campaign of ideas like the one he ran, to help Carl McCall make history in New York," Mr. Clinton said. If elected, Mr. McCall would be the state's first black governor.
Political observers said Mr. Cuomo alienated voters with his brusque style, including his attack on Mr. Pataki's response to the World Trade Center attacks. Mr. Cuomo said the governor was merely "holding the coat" of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
"From the very beginning he was arrogant, and his style was just off-putting," said former Mayor Ed Koch, who is supporting Mr. Pataki. "That was compounded when he said the worst thing he could have said. Everyone realized this guy will say anything."

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