NEW YORK (AP) — Riding high in statewide polls, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo campaigned Wednesday with former President Bill Clinton and vowed to use Clinton's two terms in office as a model for how to govern. Republican Carl Paladino signed a pledge supporting construction workers who oppose the development of an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero and dismissed statewide polling in the race as "fabrication."
Six days before midterm elections, a new Quinnipiac Poll found Cuomo leading Paladino among likely voters by a 55 percent to 35 percent margin. At a rally with Clinton in Brooklyn, Cuomo asked the crowd not to be complacent and to help get Democratic voters to the polls.
"Nov. 2 happens because you make it happen," Cuomo said. "They are predicting a lot of Democrats, a lot of minorities are going to stay home because they aren't energized. I say the models are all wrong, especially in New York."
Cuomo served under Clinton in the Department of Housing and Urban Development for eight years, eventually becoming HUD secretary. Cuomo said he would try to emulate Clinton's presidency as governor.
"Bill Clinton showed people what good government can do," Cuomo said. "We're going to turn New York state around the way Bill Clinton turned the nation around."
The former president told the crowd he believed Cuomo would transform the notoriously dysfunctional state government.
"I believe Andrew Cuomo has the potential to solve this 30-year debate" over the role of government in people's lives, Clinton said. He added, "Let's send him to Albany with a massive majority."
Clinton also mocked what he called "Paladino's greatest hits," including Paladino's plan to send welfare recipients to receive hygiene lessons in upstate prisons.
Paladino, a millionaire real estate developer from Buffalo, donned a hard hat at an event near the World Trade Center site to say he would work to stop construction of the Islamic Center. In the past, he's proposed using eminent domain to halt the project, but he told reporters Wednesday there were other options to explore.
"There's many, many alternatives in addition to just bleeding them to death," he said.
The proposed Islamic center has angered some family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who say it's inappropriate to build it so close to where nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of Muslim extremists. The issue inflamed a national political debate over the summer, with Republican and some Democratic candidates across the country expressing opposition to the center. Cuomo has said he supports the proposed center.
Paladino told reporters he does not pay attention to polls showing him badly trailing Cuomo just days before the election.
"It's all fabrication," he said. "They can't judge the turnout."
Cuomo and Paladino are the leading candidates to replace Gov. David Paterson, who took office after former Gov. Eliot Spitzer stepped down in a prostitution scandal but isn't seeking election to a full term. Several minor-party candidates, including Jimmy McMillan, of the Rent is Too Damn High Party, and anti-Prohibition party candidate Kristin Davis, the so-called Manhattan Madam, who once ran a prostitution ring, also are bidding for the governor's office.
Associated Press writer Cristian Salazar contributed to this story.
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