NYC
07/10/2013 05:55 pm ET

Eliot Spitzer Tells CNBC 'Trust Is The Issue' In NYC Comptroller's Race

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's surprise campaign for New York City comptroller was dogged again Wednesday with questions about the sex scandal that drove him from office five years ago.

Spitzer, a Democrat seeking to become the city's financial watchdog, faced repeated inquiries from the hosts of CNBC's "Squawk Box" about why voters should trust him.

"You were the chief law enforcement officer of the state and you did something that was illegal," said CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin, alluding to Spitzer's 2008 resignation for trysts with prostitutes.

"I'm not going to quibble or get into a conversation about that. I've had that conversation many times," said Spitzer. "I've made it very clear that I'm asking for forgiveness, redemption. I've acknowledged the sin.

"Unlike many folks, I stood, acknowledged that I erred in my personal life," said Spitzer. "The public will look at that. Whether there will be redemption is something that the public will determine."

Sorkin bluntly asked Spitzer if he continues to pay women for sex.

"Since you've resigned, can you unequivocally say that you have not been with a prostitute?" Sorkin said.

The question briefly flummoxed the former governor and state attorney general.

"First of all, yes, and here's the thing," said Spitzer, as he regained his footing. "The questions about my personal life will at a certain point have to focus and shift to the substance of this office, which is what I think the public really cares about."

Despite recoiling at the query, Spitzer conceded, "Trust is the issue. I agree with you."

Spitzer parried a question about whether he'd support Anthony Weiner, the mayoral candidate who quit Congress for sending lewd photos of himself over Twitter.

"I'm not supporting any mayoral candidate," Spitzer said. "I have enough going on in the comptroller's race without diving into the politics of another one."

The interview on CNBC follows Spitzer's appearance on PBS' "Charlie Rose" Tuesday night.

On that episode, Spitzer told guest host Mark Halperin that prostitution is "an exploitative industry" and that his sexual liaisons in Washington's Mayflower Hotel were "obviously a violation of responsibility, oath, loyalty."

The comptroller's office is responsible for overseeing the city's nearly $70 billion budget and manage the assets of the city's five pension funds worth almost a combined $140 billion. Spitzer's presumptive opponent in the comptroller's race is Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough president, who has neither the star power nor the baggage of Spitzer.

While Spitzer tries to burnish his public image with a barrage of TV and radio appearances since announcing his candidacy on Sunday, he must clear hurdles enforced by the New York City Board of Elections.

To get his name on the ballot for the September Democratic primary, he must collect 3,750 signatures from registerred Democrats by Thursday. To comply with the city's complex election laws and to stave off challenges from opponents, however, he must gather far more signatures.

He's shelling out an exorbitant $800 per day to people gathering signatures for him, according to the New York Daily News, to guarantee that he easily exceeds the minimum threshold.

The Spitzer campaign did not return repeated calls from HuffPost.

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