Gov. Derides First Lady Over Writer
By Frank Eltman
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, Oct. 8, 2000; 3:17 p.m. EDT NEW YORK Maybe it was Gov. George Pataki who should have studied for the Senate debate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican opponent Rick Lazio.
The Republican governor astonished reporters on Sunday when he derided Clinton for citing E.B. White, a longtime writer for New Yorker magazine and author of the children's classics "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little."
Near the end of Sunday's senatorial debate, both Clinton and Lazio were asked for their definitions of a New Yorker, especially in light of the "carpetbagger" tag that Lazio has sought to attach to the first lady.
Clinton said White and others have defined New Yorkers over the years, adding that New York has always been a "magnet for people from literally all over the world.
"People are drawn to New York because this is a place that you can stake your claim, you can build a future, you can dream your dreams. And it is a place that I've always known welcomed everyone from everywhere, including immigrants from Washington, D.C."
In the post-debate "spin" session, where supporters from each camp tell the media how well their candidate did, Pataki attacked both Clinton and White, a native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., which is not far from Pataki's hometown of Peekskill.
"Rick Lazio looks, sounds and talks like a New Yorker," he said. "Mrs. Clinton quoted some guy, Wyatt or somebody I don't think he was from Brooklyn with some definition of a New Yorker that she must have read somewhere."
The Yale graduate then dug in deeper:
"I don't know who that guy was. I don't know what he wrote. I don't know where he was from. But it sure doesn't sound to me like that guy was a New Yorker or understood New York the way we do.
When told that Clinton was referring to E.B. White and not someone named Wyatt, Pataki said: "Where's he from?"
He then was told that White had written for The New Yorker for years.
Pataki continued: "Well, maybe the average member of the media who lives in Manhattan, when they're quoting New York, would use E.B. White, or whatever his name is. I don't think people from Brooklyn or Peekskill would have quoted that person."
For his part, Lazio's experience in reading bedtime stories to his two young daughters paid off when reporters asked about his knowledge of White:
"He wrote 'Charlotte's Web.'"
© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press