Celeste Katz. New York Daily News. 4/7/2006.

State attorney General Eliot Spitzer hides behind his role as a prosecutor to avoid saying what he'd do on tricky issues if elected governor, underdog Democratic primary opponent Tom Suozzi sniped yesterday.

"Eliot likes to have it both ways," said Nassau County Executive Suozzi, after making a pitch to the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

"On some issues, /[Spitzer/] says, 'Well, I can't comment on that case because I'm representing the state government on that issue,' " Suozzi said, citing the Campaign for Fiscal Equity school-funding lawsuit.

But when it comes to a topic such as gay marriage, "he says, 'Gay marriage is not permissible under state law - but if I was governor, I would change it,' " Suozzi said.

On school funding, Suozzi said, if he were elected, he'd personally talk to the mayor and teachers union about tying increased aid to incentive pay for working in low-performing schools. Spitzer has said if elected, he would move quickly to address court rulings on school funding and that he is in favor of more money for education.

"Eliot has been very open about instances like CFE /[the Campaign for Fiscal Equity/] and gay marriage, where his constitutional obligation to defend state law differs from how he would like to see state law changed," said Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Anderson.


Suozzi also has repeatedly pressed Spitzer to be more aggressive in pursuing fraud and abuse in New York's Medicaid system.

Speaking to the political group Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century in Manhattan last night, Spitzer said that he is pursuing fraud and although the state spends more on Medicaid than is affordable, he believes Suozzi is overstating the amount of waste in the system.

"Ninety-eight percent of that money, I would hazard to say, is spent where it's supposed to be," Spitzer said.


Earlier yesterday, actress Blythe Danner was the star of a "Women for Spitzer" fund-raiser, praising Spitzer's willingness to take the Bush administration to court on environmental issues.