- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - Republican Rob Astorino is using a mushroom cloud from an old political ad to remind voters about a federal investigation into what he called a “cloud of corruption” around Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Astorino’s new spot, to be broadcast around the state on Tuesday, mimics the “daisy girl” ad that helped Lyndon B. Johnson defeat Barry Goldwater for president in 1964.

Back then, the mushroom cloud suggested that Goldwater was a reckless extremist. Astorino said Monday, “We thought it was appropriate 50 years later when this state is under a cloud of corruption.”

It opens with a child counting daisy petals. A narrator issues a countdown. Then there’s a loud explosion and a huge nuclear-bomb mushroom cloud that morphs into Cuomo’s face.

Superimposed are the words “Andrew Cuomo under federal investigation for corruption, witness tampering, obstruction of justice.”

The voice ominously says: “These are the stakes. Do we re-elect a governor who may end up in jail?”

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said the ad was deliberately provocative “to get people talking about the corruption in this state.”

He said the commercial alluded to Cuomo’s dismantling of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission and the decision by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to take over the panel’s work. Bharara has threatened to investigate Cuomo’s office for obstruction and witness tampering. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing.

Astorino said Cuomo shut down the commission’s investigation when “it got too close.”

No charges have been filed. Astorino said, “We need to know whether federal laws were broken, and I believe, and most believe, that they could have and may very well have.”

“The fact that people are still somewhat unaware of what the Moreland Commission scandal is is a scandal in and of itself.”

Said Matt Wing, a Cuomo campaign spokesman, “The only way Astorino’s ad would be factual is if it were about him.” He was alluding to Astorino’s own fight with the federal government over housing desegregation and zoning in Westchester: Bharara has said Astorino made “false and misleading statements” about the case and a judge has ordered Astorino to submit to a deposition. No charges have been filed.

Astorino said Monday, “That’s policy … that’s not crimes.”

Astorino, trailing badly in most polls, said the new TV ad was not a sign of desperation. He alluded to his campaign’s “internal” polls but would not disclose any findings.


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