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Long IslandPolitics

Ex-aide: Racist, pornographic e-mails doomed Paladino

Carl Paladino's campaign for governor was doomed from the start because of the spate of racist and pornographic e-mails he forwarded to friends, campaign manager Michael Caputo told a post-election forum at New School University in Manhattan Wednesday.

Caputo said the campaign knew about and polled about the e-mails before they were released by a Buffalo Web site and had hoped to manage their release on their own schedule, as they rolled out the news of his out-of-wedlock daughter.

"We found [the e-mails] to be very problematic," Caputo said. "Not the pornography as much as the perceived racism. We found that to be a bullet to the head."

Caputo said the campaign hired a private investigator to dig into Paladino's life to guard against campaign surprises, but found nothing that hadn't already emerged in the campaign.

Caputo also said that Paladino's sick-and-tired mantra about state government, while popular upstate, never gained traction in New York City and on Long Island.

"I think the fed-up line changes at Westchester," he said. "The people in Westchester and south are maybe not just fine with the way things are run, but they find it better than the alternative."

Still, Caputo praised Paladino's effort in the first two weeks after his primary victory over former Rep. Rick Lazio, of Brightwaters. But once Paladino accused now-Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo of having "paramours" in interviews with Newsday and Politico.com the campaign went downhill, he said.