By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — The Republican nominee for governor hasn't had many kind words for Manhattan or its residents, but he softened his tone somewhat during his most recent campaign stop in the borough this week.
Tea Party darling Carl Paladino, who has chided the city for being liberal and elitist, managed to find a few nice things to say about Manhattan during a quick visit Monday to the place he recently derided as a haven for "smug, self-important, pampered liberal elitists," The New York Times reported.
The candidate called Manhattan a "fun place" to visit for "two or three days" at a time, the Times reported. But the Buffalo-based businessman didn't let himself get too attached to Manhattan, telling the paper that after a short time here, "you got to go back and get your head adjusted."
Paladino reportedly shunned the luxe life, staying in a nondescript Garment District hotel and riding in the front seat of taxis, an apparent attempt to avoid the perception of "elite" riders who prefer the back seat.
He had a celebrity sighting in the lobby of the CBS building on West 57th Street, when a reporter pointed out actress Kristin Scott Thomas, the Times reported.
Paladino reportedly introduced himself quite enthusiastically, prompting the "The English Patient" starlet to retreat toward an elevator.
While Paladino toned down his rhetoric toward the city, he showed no sign of playing nice with Democratic rival, Andrew Cuomo.
The Republican nominee’s campaign is distributing a flyer portraying Cuomo standing bare-chested in the shower washing off spotches of mud emblazoned with the words "Special Interest $$$" and "WFP" for Working Families Party, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
He also reportedly sent Cuomo a letter asking if he had the "cojones" for a debate, prompting an angry outburst from Cuomo at a secret meeting Monday, the Daily News reported.
"If a guy says you have no cojones, how do you punch him back, call him an a--hole?" Cuomo told his team, the News reported.
Democrats have tried their hand at mudslinging, releasing a photo that portrayed Paladino as a pig feeding "at the public trough," according to the Post.
"Paladino is dragging everyone into the gutter, and the Democrats are jumping in after him," Baruch College political science professor Doug Muzzio told the Post.