Cuomo Opponent Takes a Bus to Debate
NEW YORK (AP) _ This is not where a gubernatorial candidate should prepare for his first debate with a powerful incumbent: Gate 76, lower level, Port Authority Bus Terminal.
But there stood Republican Pierre Rinfret, clutching a $39.55 one-way ticket Friday morning.
Rinfret, a millionaire economist running a cash-starved campaign, glad- handed fellow passengers and the bus driver before boarding a Greyhound bound for Syracuse and a showdown with Gov. Mario Cuomo. Lack of party funds forced him to use mass transit, he said.
″Is this a publicity stunt? Yeah, in part. But we’re out of money,″ said Rinfret. Three aides accompanied him on his excursion north.
So exactly how much money is left in the Rinfret warchest?
″We got a big check yesterday - $1,000. Now we’ve got $1,100 in our account,″ Rinfret joked.
Rinfret got a lot of mileage out of the stunt even before the bus left. Four local television crews and a pair of radio reporters showed up.
His arrival in Syracuse several hours later and 30 minutes behind schedule was less postitive. Striking Greyhound workers greeted him with cries of ″Scab 3/8″ and a sign reading ″Wrong Way Rinfret.″
The debate itself, to also feature Conservative Party candidate Herbert London and Right-to-Life Party candidate Louis Wein, didn’t seem to excite Rinfret as much as his first bus ride since 1941.
″It’s not a debate, it’s a charade of a debate. I don’t consider Wein or London candidates. That’s another charade,″ he said. ″Cuomo is a ghost governor. He only shows up where he wants to show up under certain conditions.″
Rinfret, wearing a blue suit, appeared out of place as he awaited the bus among the police, passengers and occasional homeless person. He perked up when another rider recognized him.
″Mr. Rinfret,″ the woman said as he walked past.
″You recognize me 3/8″ replied an exuberant Rinfret.
″I saw you on TV,″ she responded.
The gubernatorial hopeful than shook hands with other passengers, many of whom didn’t seem to know who he was. Yet Rinfret remained upbeat about his trip and his chances.
″I think you might see the best political overturn in this century,″ said Rinfret. ″We are neck and neck with Cuomo in some heavy Democratic areas.″
Recent polls indicate Rinfret is more neck and neck with London than Cuomo. But he glossed over those numbers.
As with much of Rinfret’s campaign, the Greyhound caper didn’t go off all that smoothly. The candidate almost boarded the wrong bus; the right bus left 13 minutes late.
But all ended well. Rinfret waved goodbye from a window seat.
After the debate, Rinfret said he was being flown back to New York City by Jefferson County Republican Chairman Ronald Trickey aboard a private plane.