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Paladino joins parade of notables at Trump Tower

Carl P. Paladino is getting to know his way around Trump Tower.

The Buffalo developer spent an hour with Donald J. Trump Monday, joining the parade of notables paying their respects to the president-elect at his Manhattan headquarters.

They discussed everything from Trump's relations with the media to New Yorkers who may serve in the new administration.

"We had a great meeting," Paladino said Tuesday. "We talked about all kinds of things."

Paladino said he notified a Trump staff member of his arrival in New York City on Sunday and was given a number to contact the president-elect, who then invited him to the transition office on Monday morning. The pair talked for about an hour, Paladino said.

Upon arriving, he encountered Vice President-elect Michael R. Pence; Reince Priebus, nominated as chief of staff; Michael T. Flynn, nominated as national security adviser; Stephen K. Bannon, nominated as special adviser; and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Paladino described the meeting as "very warm," and Trump as "a happy soul."

"He's just one happy guy, and I saw the guy I've known," said Paladino, who is no stranger to Trump's Fifth Avenue headquarters. "He is total energy, and very proud of his family and his kids.

"It was a wide-ranging conversation about all the people across the state who were on my team," added Paladino, who was Trump's honorary campaign co-chairman in New York State. "We talked about New Yorkers who might have a role, how we might structure appointments and who would get input. I think I will have an ongoing ability to make recommendations."

Paladino also said he is open to taking on a role in the new administration, but told the president-elect he is not anxious.

"We talked about that. He knows," Paladino said. "But I would have to have something to get my teeth into and be engaged. Otherwise, I've got a good job."

Kushner joined the pair for the end of their conversation, impressing Paladino with his knowledge and justifying, in Paladino's opinion, the key role he is expected to play in Trump's inner circle.

"It's very obvious Jared is No. 1," Paladino said. "The three of us talked about some other things, including New York State politics."

Other topics included recount efforts launched by former Green Party candidate Jill Stein, which Paladino called a "waste of money," and the controversies sparked by Trump's nontraditional approach to the presidential transition.

"What's frustrating for him right now is how the press wants to read him," he said. "They shouldn't be trying to guess what his reasoning is. It's really so simple: he wants the best administration and competent people around him who are not afraid of all these politically correct aims.

"He'll knock down some walls and do what is right," he said.

Paladino joined Trump in the billionaire’s Manhattan headquarters on April 19 to celebrate the candidate’s overwhelming victory in New York’s Republican primary. He appeared at Trump’s side that night in the building's lobby, and was subsequently featured on several front pages throughout the nation.

He said Trump delved into the New York campaign during his Monday meeting, even though "we didn't win or do anything extraordinary."

Since Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, dozens of high-profile people have visited the president-elect in his Midtown skyscraper to discuss various roles and offer advice. Paladino also has been a frequent guest at Trump Tower in recent years, dating to his initial meeting in 2013 as he and other New York Republicans unsuccessfully urged Trump to run for governor.

Paladino is often portrayed as a precursor to Trump’s presidential effort in 2016. Both are outspoken and controversial businessmen promising to “shake up” respective governments in Albany and Washington. And while neither won in New York, they proved successful in vast swaths of upstate.

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