Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is attempting a political comeback by running for New York City comptroller, said withdrawing from politics in the wake of his 2008 escort scandal was “painful.”
“Obviously there was much pain related to other issues,” Spitzer said on MSNBC last night. “But specifically on that issue in February of ’08, I testified before Congress about subprime debt and told the story of how we had begun to investigate subprime debt. We made the first case in 1999. In ’04, I was pilloried for investigating it and made fun of. The conservative voices, oh, subprime debt is great. And we were saying, no, it was going to metastasize in a dangerous way.”
He said “it was painful to watch, and we have all paid a price for not being diligent in understanding how markets really work and how Wall Street needs to be policed.”
Spitzer said he ultimately regretted stepping down.
“Obviously I regret it because I was forced to do it. I think it was also the right thing to do. I believe in accountability, and I believe in paying a price when one violates an obligation. I violated that obligation,” he said. “Whether I paid the right price is the issue, I suppose, the public will — I will ask the public to weigh and decide if I’m on the ballot this September and November. But I believe it was the right thing to do, and as painful as it was and as difficult as it was.”
Spitzer aims to join an NYC ballot that already includes fellow sex-scandler Anthony Weiner running for mayor.
“I think my sense that the public has a capacity to forgive that’s grown and I’ve understood that from what I call my walking down the street poll sensitivity. Anybody who’s in politics interacts with people, and even though I’m not in politics, obviously, I’m well enough known so I talk to people. I enjoy that process,” Spitzer said.
“When you talk to people, you understand their emotions. I see that forgiveness and willingness to give folks a second chance and obviously the examples you just gave are evidence of that. Whether that will transfer to me is an open question. Every case is different. And that is why there’s massive uncertainty, risk, and as there should be, and is rightly the case that there’s risk,” he continued.
“So, yes, certainly I understand that sense of forgiveness. It is a quality that I think we like and respect in human nature. The capacity to forgive. But it’s sometimes parsimoniously afforded to people.”
Kristin Davis, aka the Manhattan Madam who supplied Gov. Spitzer with call girls, declared she would jump into the race to challenge Spitzer.
“Quite frankly, I’m more qualified for comptroller than Eliot Spitzer,” Davis told the New York Observer, noting her decade spent as the senior vice president of a $5 billion hedge fund. “Math, budgeting, finance. That’s what my college degree’s in and that’s what I did for most of my adult life. You know, he’s an attorney, not an accountant. So he’s not really qualified for that race.”
“He disgraced the entire state,” she said. “We’re already $2.2 billion in debt. I don’t see him as being the guy to turn that situation around. He’s just a power-hungry person. … It would be a disgrace for the City of New York to allow an unpunished criminal who committed multiple felonies to be re-elected back into office.”
Thanks to Spitzer and Weiner, the madam said, “I think that we look like a huge joke to the rest of the county.”
Related: VIDEO: See Eliot Spitzer Cry