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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Over decade, Lazio evolves on the E.B. White issue

GOP fans say they can tell Rick Lazio learned many lessons from his 2000 Senate race against Hillary Clinton. At least one was literary: Lazio's glossy new  "Building a Better New York"  policy paper ends with an inspirational blurb from the same essay Clinton used to tweak him in their second debate - E.B. White's "Here is New York."

Hey, it worked for Clinton.

For those who may not recall this defining moment in history, here's a news account from the second Lazio-Clinton debate a decade ago:

Asked near the end of the debate to define a "New Yorker," Clinton delivered a paean to the Empire State, especially the Big Apple. She quoted the writer E.B. White - who wrote essays about New York for The New Yorker magazine - and she described it as a "magnet for people from all over the world" that "welcomes everyone, including immigrants from Washington, D.C." - a wink at the carpetbagger charges that were the thrust of Lazio's main message earlier in the campaign.

In the political "spin" room afterwards, Gov. Pataki unwittingly provided the morning's funniest moment for reporters and book lovers everywhere.

In an attempt to make Clinton look like an intellectual snob who out's of touch with the people, Pataki ridiculed her allusion to E.B. White, the author of the children's classics Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little as well as the writing handbook The Elements of Style.

"I don't know who he is," Pataki said, unembarrassed.

The governor maintained that New Yorkers in "Brooklyn or Peekskill" don't know who this White is either.

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