'A Smart One and a Dumb One'
By Peter Elkind

(FORTUNE Magazine) – William Weld--the Republican former Massachusetts governor, ex-U.S. Attorney, current New Yorker--is the early favorite to emerge as Spitzer's opponent in the election next fall. He spoke recently to FORTUNE writer Peter Elkind.

What is the status of your candidacy? Are you officially in?

I'm 24/7. I'm 100%. I've visited with my wife in every area of the state, except Chautauqua and St. Lawrence County, but we'll get there.

How do you view the prospect of competing against Eliot Spitzer?

It's one smart one and one dumb one.

Which is which?

He's the smart one. He had a better record at Harvard. I'm a poor law student, picking hayseeds out of my ear.

How has Spitzer done as AG?

I don't know much beyond the headlines, and the headlines are so broad, it's hard to see past them. It is true that he hasn't tried many cases. That's one thing that's a little bit different than a regular prosecutor.

You're a prosecutor who became a governor. How hard is that switch?

It was difficult for me, because I came from the federal system, where you're not allowed to hold pre-indictment press conferences and make extra-judicial statements. There's apparently no check on that in New York State.

So that was all political?

I'd call it public relations more than political. He's been conducting himself in a more freewheeling manner.

Yet his polling numbers are very high.

I'll leave the political analysis to the pundits, but I think a year before the election, the ballot-test question is a name-recognition question. Just as I did in Massachusetts, I'm starting with 0% name recognition.

I'd say the voters look for different skill sets in those two positions. To be an effective prosecutor, you need laser-like intensity, a sense of indignation if not outrage. You're preparing your case in a very pointed manner. In being a governor and adjusting and calibrating hundreds of different claimants in the public arena, you need balance, you need judgment, you need gravitas, you need a broad-gauge approach.

You mean Spitzer doesn't have that?

I'm just going to leave it with what I said.