Espaillat runs against Rangel as the young guy; Williams runs against Rangel as the competent guy

Adriano Espaillat, at the Barack Obama Democratic Club. (Reid Pillifant)
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When Rep. Charlie Rangel walked into a crowded room on 125th Street an hour late earlier this week, making his first public appearance in two months, he used a walker.

On display afterward were two strikingly different anti-Rangel strategies from his leading opponents.

Immediately after the event, State Senator Adriano Espaillat released a statement saying he was glad to learn Rangel was "up and about" because the campaign will require "we vigorously debate" the issues.

The digs at the 81-year-old's diminished health were unmistakable.

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By contrast, Clyde Williams, a former aide to presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, did not offer a comment. But he, or someone working on his behalf, released the names of some powerful donors they have supporting their campaign.

"Backers include: Office of the Vice President's Tony Blinken and Evan Ryan; White House's Caroline Atkinson; Glover Park Group's Joel Johnson; Discovery Communications' David Leavy; and Goldman Sachs's Jake Siewert," according to Politico.

Whereas Espaillat is trying to make a freshness argument, in other words, Williams is positioning himself as the most Washington-capable of Rangel's challengers. He's already raised $125,000 and, unlike other challengers, conducted a poll in order to better calibrate his campaign's strategy.

Other candidates in the race include Joyce Johnson, who ran in 2010 and won the Times' endorsement, and Craig Schley, a perennial candidate whose slogan this time around is "Evolve 2012." Which is oddly fitting.