Scott Stringer isn’t planning to steamroll anyone

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Scott Stringer doesn't buy, and won't try to match, Eliot Spitzer's campaign rhetoric about how he'd transform the comptroller's office.

"You can't just walk in and steamroll the board," Stringer told Brian Lehrer this morning on WNYC, in an interview that was moved up after Spitzer's surprise entry into the race on Sunday night.

Lehrer said he wasn't planning to host Stringer until after the primary election, since he appeared to be running unopposed, but he quickly moved up that timetable after Spitzer's media blitz included a conversation with Lehrer yesterday.

Stringer took some direct shots at Spitzer for self-funding his campaign--a criticism Spitzer called "petulant" yesterday--and some thinly veiled ones, casting himself as an experienced candidate with the temperament and sound judgment to audit the city's spending and help manage its pension investments.

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Stringer said "the person to elect to do this kind of work is the person who's playing by the rules, who's in the campaign finance system," and said he wouldn't be reaching out to Spitzer's deep-pocketed enemies to help fund his campaign.

"I have thousands of campaign contributors," he said. "I am not reaching out to the people Eliot made enemies with and vice versa. That's not my game. I'm going to have an adequate amount of money to spend."

Twice, Stringer quoted the old Shirley Chisholm line (which was subsequently appropriated by Jon Corzine) about being "unbought and unbossed."

Stringer also referenced the overwhelming support he enjoys from the local establishment, which appears to have already cost Spitzer at least one top consultant, urging voters to "look at the totality of people supporting me."

He said the policy unit he formed at the borough president's office "did the kind of audits and investigations that prepared me for this job," and cited his Albany experience as proof that he could  "work collaboratively with the mayor," while remaining "fiercely independent."

And Stringer made light of Spitzer's promise to use the city's sway as a shareholder to aggressively pursue corporate governance initiatives, like severing the dual roles of JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, who serves as both CEO and chairman of the board.

"He didn't invent this issue," Stringer said. "We've been working on this issue. And I will certainly brief him."

Spitzer, meanwhile, showed a softer side to his aggressive persona on Tuesday morning, in an appearance on "Morning Joe."

“You go through that pain, you change,” Spitzer said while appearing to hold back tears.

Later, on "Capitol Pressroom" an Albany-based, upstate radio show, he expressed some measured confidence that his fledgling campaign could actually amass the 3,750 signatures needed to secure a spot on the primary ballot.

"We're out there," he said. "We're gathering assiduously."

Spitzer, who recently advertised for canvassers on Craig's List, said he had "many, many people" out in the field.

"I feel comfortable we will get there," he said.