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Paladino touts Arizona-style immigration pitch

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino speaks

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino speaks during an interview, Monday. (Sept. 27, 2010) Credit: AP

BUFFALO - An immigration proposal that echoes Arizona's controversial provision would be put up for a referendum, and a special counsel could be named to challenge federal health care reform under a Paladino administration, the GOP candidate for governor said Thursday.

Carl Paladino also switched his position on a property tax cap, saying he favored a 2 percent cap "with no exceptions" - after telling Newsday Monday he didn't think a tax cap would work.

In a 45-minute interview here in his law office filled with photos of family and a life-size cutout of Ronald Reagan, Paladino laid out a number of policy prescriptions a day after he lost his temper in a nationally televised fracas with a reporter.

On immigration, Paladino said he would instruct the New York State Police "to enforce federal [immigration] laws . . . like they do in Arizona."

Existing New York law does not let police stop people suspected of being illegal immigrants "based on profiling," Paladino said. That aspect, he said, "should go to a public referendum. It should be up to the people."

Campaign manager Michael Caputo interrupted and said Paladino's official position was that a new law wasn't needed.

"But, but . . . ," Paladino said.

"Carl," Caputo said, holding up his hand.

Arizona's wide-ranging law requires police to determine the immigration status of people they stop and also think are in the country illegally. A federal court has blocked its central provisions. Arizona is appealing.

Paladino also said he would use executive authority to challenge the federal health care reform. If a new attorney general declined to file a lawsuit, Paladino said he would appoint a special counsel to do so, calling the law "debilitating." "The working man wants to know why he has to pay" higher premiums, he said.

Gwen O'Shea, president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island and a member of a state health care reform task force, said the bill would actually save money.

Asked about specific plans for Long Island, Paladino said his plans to cut taxes would be welcomed by suburban voters.

"I've been all over Long Island," he said. "The faces are different, but the look on their faces is the same: They've lost hope. They're paying property taxes that they can't endure."

Finally, he clarified his suggestion that his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, had an extramarital affair, saying he meant the media should ask Cuomo why his marriage to Kerry Kennedy broke up.

That suggestion, made without evidence, prompted a shouting match Wednesday night between Paladino and New York Post columnist Fredric U. Dicker. Paladino, who was incensed about the Post photographing his 10-year-old daughter, told Dicker, "I'll take you out, buddy."

Thursday, Paladino said Dicker started the fight, poking him in the chest as he asked for proof of the Cuomo affair. "I was completely stunned," Paladino told Newsday. Caputo called the incident "not good for this campaign."

Dicker didn't return messages seeking comment. The Post's editor-in-chief, Col Allan, said in a statement: "Mr. Paladino should not be surprised by the media's interest in his families, as he has invited public scrutiny of his personal life by running for governor and speaking openly about his mistress and love child."

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