ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Republican Carl Paladino promised he would pull New York out of its economic morass — and lay off thousands of state workers in process — as he rallied Friday with supporters in the race for governor.
His Democratic opponent, front-runner Andrew Cuomo, was also traveling the state in the final days before Tuesday's election. In western New York, Cuomo tried to make the case that he's ready to fix Albany and he alone has the experience and temperament to do it.
Both sought to leave voters with a sense of optimism after months of a campaign dominated by dire economics, government corruption and personal attacks.
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel," Cuomo said in a series of stops that at times drew hundreds of cheering supporters and local elected officials. "Everything is going to be OK ... I can make government work."
In Cheektowaga Friday, within Paladino's Western New York base, Cuomo reminded 250 cheering supporters about how New York used to have the best state government in the country, back when he watched his father in the 1980s.
"I used to watch in awe," Cuomo said. "You had such talented people, people on both sides of the aisle ... we were not a national embarrassment. We were the nation's leader."
In Albany, Frank McClellan stood at a distance watching Paladino's "mad as hell rally" on the Capitol steps, which drew a small crowd, typical of both sides at most campaign stops. Supporters included one wearing a tricorn hat and another calling him "Joe Sixpack on steroids!"
McClellan, 46, a former Republican who liked Cuomo's father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, said he was leaning toward Paladino. The college-educated small business owner is one of New York's 2.3 million independent voters, expected to be a major force on Tuesday.
He said he's not put off by Paladino, whose shouting match in which he threatened to "take out" a reporter and conservative views on gays have most voters feeling he lacks the temperament to be governor, according to recent polls.
"He's rough around the edges and that's what we need," McClellan said. "We don't need a cookie-cutter guy, giving answers that have been rehearsed over and over. We don't need a puppet."
This week's Quinnipiac University poll found Cuomo had a 44 percent to 40 percent lead among independent voters, part of his overall lead of 55 percent to 35 percent.
At the rally, Paladino pushed his proposed cuts in spending and taxes and said the state's fiscal crisis is dire after years of overspending. He said he would lay off thousands of public workers, beyond the nearly 900 cuts Democratic Gov. David Paterson announced Thursday.
Cuomo wouldn't say if he would lay off workers if he becomes governor, saying only that everything will be considered.
"The first thing we have to remember, is these are families, these are a father, a mother who would be laid off at a very difficult time of the year," he said at a stop in Palmyra, near Rochester.
On Friday, Paladino presented a broad vision of what has administration would bring.
"Our parents taught us, go to school, work hard, get yourself a good fulfilling job," Paladino said. "But now in Washington and Albany, they want to change the rules. They want to make us the most expensive government in America."
He pledged to lead "a government that is grounded, a government you can trust, a government you can leave to your children and grandchildren."
AP Writer Carolyn Thompson contributed to this report from Cheektowaga.
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