Freddy & Al: Brief Encounter
Freddy Ferrer and Al Sharpton went shopping Tuesday, leading a throng of onlookers into a Pathmark supermarket in the heart of Harlem, taking questions from the press and greeting shoppers and employees in the produce section. When someone suggested to Sharpton that he run for president in 2008, he responded "Don't get Hillary mad at me." Then they walked along 125th Street, shaking hands and greeting passers-by.
It wasn't a long walk. After leaving the supermarket, Ferrer and Sharpton strolled east a block, crossed the street, headed back west for a block, and then parted. Sharpton got into a late-model black Cadillac and headed south. Ferrer continued for two more blocks, joined at the front of the procession by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, one of a contingent of electeds there.
"Freddy did a great job rebuilding the Bronx," said Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat running for Manhattan borough president. "He made the Bronx affordable for many people, and he can do that for all New Yorkers." Bronx Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. was optimistic about Ferrer's chances to become mayor. Diaz predicted that Ferrer would receive the 40 percent he needs to avoid a runoff. "They're all great candidates," Diaz said of the other three Democrats running for mayor, "but they don't have the numbers to stop us."
Some prospective voters on 125th Street today were less enthused. "They just want to look good," said Peter Rodriguez, a homeless man who happened to be in the area. "It's not about going somewhere, it's about doing something." William Mobley, a tall, middle-aged man who lived nearby, said that he considered the Ferrer's presence in Harlem "just a show." "You know politician means 'con', right?" Mobley said.
Both Sharpton and Ferrer were asked about an unflattering cartoon in Tuesday's New York Post that depicted an obsequious Ferrer about to kiss the posterior of a grotesquely obese Sharpton. "The polarization has started," Sharpton declared. He went on to say that the cartoon "will energize a lot of voters to come out ." Ferrer was less effusive when asked about the cartoon. "It is the New York Post," he said, with a tinge of contempt.
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