By Scott Greenberg
Former lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey started off the Conservative Party’s convention last night with echoes of national Tea Party leader Mark Williams’s “monkey god” attack on plans for a mosque near ground zero.
After a 10-minute tirade against Obamacare, McCaughey said, “And the politicians right here in NY are permitting the building of a mosque! A TEMPLE TO TERRORISTS! Right next to the 9/11 site. Right where our New Yorkers jumped from the 110 stories, jumped right to their deaths to avoid an even worse fate.”
She added, “Tonight we launch the battle to take back our government and secure our way of life. This is the fight of our lifetime, this is the fight we must win. I hope I can help!”
Shortly before, McCaughey said, “Our government has been hijacked. Hijacked by people who don’t share our values and don’t value our freedom. The president bows to foreign leaders. The president apologizes for America’s greatness. The president abandons our allies and cozies up to our enemies.”
Chairman Michael Long praised McCaughey after the speech. “Betsy, thank you very much. I gotta tell you she’s available as a candidate, she’s available for your organizations,” he said. McCaughey sat on the dais at the party’s yearly dinner last week.
The former LG’s appearances come as Conservative higher-ups like Long are trying to keep their fractured party together and behind gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio. While Conservatives endorsed Lazio for governor with 54 percent of the weighted vote last night, a Levy-Paladino cohort forced a primary with Erie County Conservative chairman Ralph Lorigo to give more time to Suffolk County executive Steve Levy and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino to get GOP support at the Republican convention next week (Lorigo would serve as a placeholder).
A separate Tea Party candidacy by Paladino would also threaten the Conservative ballot line; Conservatives must receive 50,000 votes or their ballot status will be scrubbed.
Lorigo called out Long at the convention. “My fight is over strength and survival of our party. Never before in my memory has our leader stifled the vetting of all candidates for the office,” he said.
“There’s one candidate willing to invest $10 million of his own money. He will be on the Republican line. By petition if necessary,” Lorigo added, referring to Paladino.
Long shot back, “I don’t think we should be nominating individuals out of fear, the fear of what might happen to us as a party.”