Syracuse, N.Y. - Carl Paladino, the Buffalo attorney and real estate developer now seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of New York, held a question and answer session at the Palace Theater Wednesday night attracting about 100 people.
It was Paladino's first public event outside of Western New York since he launched his campaign in Buffalo Monday night.
insisted that at this point in the campaign, the number attending his events is not as significant as some pundits might suggest in assessing his chances in his long shot bid for the state's highest elective office.
"This is just the start of something. I'm not worried about that," Paladino told 2 On Your Side's Dave McKinley
. (A campaign spokesman said the crowd was about twice the size of what was expected.)
Several attendees identified themselves as being members of existing conservative groups and said they were enthused with Paladino's themes of cutting spending, lowering taxes, and taking on the established power structure in Albany.
"I saw him once before, when he came through for a meeting of our Central New York 9-12 group, said Sue Root of Bridgeport."I like what he had to say and I have friends in Buffalo who think highly of him," Root said.
"I've done some research on him by looking him up on the web," said Russ Radford, who traveled from Rome with other members of his family. Radford, who said he was a supporter of the Tea Party movement, said of Paladino; "I like where he's coming from ... like a businessman. It's critical to shake things up in Albany and I'm willing to see what he's all about."
John Palmer of East Syracuse, who says he's not affiliated with any group but who described is political leanings as conservative, claimed not to know of Paladino's appearance until he happened to drive by the theater on James Street and saw Paladino's name on the marquee ...and decided to stop and see what was going on.
"In fact I was on my way to a meeting but I figured this is more important because this is my future. I don't know much about him other than he's supposed to be a conservative running on conservative issues like spending in New York," Palmer said.
Paladino espoused familiar themes of cutting spending, lowering taxes, and breaking the mold of New York State government but offered a new twist when he was asked about the Governor's salary.
"I still haven't articulated or released this publicly, but as far as my salary as Governor, I expect to be donating that to charity," Paldino told those assembled who then broke into cheers.
For much of the nearly two hours Paladino spent speaking and answering questions, he seemed less caustic in his remarks than on prior occasions. However, Paladino says no one has advised him to tone things down and insists he wouldn't listen to them if they did.
"I'm not about to change," he said.
Paladino perhaps best demonstrated that when at one point he acted out what he called a "typical budget negotiation", by asking the crowd to imagine State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver conducting negotiations in secret from behind the closed door of a bathroom.
"This this is the negotiation ... Sheldon Silver sitting by himself on the throne, waging a battle of his own, with people outside waiting for Shelly to come out to you know what on the rest of us!" Paladino exclaimed to laughter and applause.