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Paladino in talk calls Paterson 'drug addict'

Carl P. Paladino has again stirred up controversy on the campaign trail, this time telling a Watertown audience Wednesday that Gov. David A. Paterson is a "drug addict."

"I'm telling you that Paterson is not your friend," the Republican gubernatorial hopeful told a Watertown audience of nine in video reported by the Watertown Daily Times. "Paterson's a drug addict. He's been a drug addict his entire life."

In the video, Paladino tells his audience -- as he has many times -- that he is not "politically correct." And that's how spokesman Michael R. Caputo again reacted Thursday when word of Paladino's appearance made its way around the state.

"Carl tells it like it is," Caputo said. "And if this is uncomfortable talk for the Albany crowd, they should buckle their seat belts because this will not be the last offense of their delicate sensibilities."

Paterson has admitted in the past that he has used cocaine. Soon after taking office in 2008, he acknowledged that he and his wife had been involved in extramarital affairs and that he had used cocaine and marijuana in his youth.

He told NY1 television in 2008 that he "tried it a couple of times" when he was "about 22 or 23."

"And marijuana probably when I was about 20," he told the cable news station. "I don't think I touched marijuana since the '70s.

Caputo, who is heard on the video saying the drug comments were "off the record," pointed to the governor's admission in his own statement Thursday.

"Carl was referring to the governor's admitted use of cocaine, a highly addictive narcotic that ruins lives," Caputo said. "As anyone who ever fought to help a habitual cocaine user will tell you, once you are an addict, you are always an addict."

The spokesman also said illegal drug abuse is "no small issue."

"If the Albany ruling elite is OK with present or past drug use among their political leaders, they need to know that the vast majority of New York is not," Caputo said. "Unlike any other candidate for governor or our present chief executive, Carl Paladino has never used marijuana, cocaine or any other illegal drug. The office of the governor is no place for drug abusers -- and Carl is not one of them."

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com