Debate Can Wait For Yanks – Rudy By PAUL SCHWARTZMAN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers

nullSunday, October 5, 1997
Mayor Giuliani said yesterday that he wants to reschedule his Thursday night debate against Democrat Ruth Messinger to avoid a potential conflict with a Yankees playoff game.

The lifelong Yankees fan said most New Yorkers, himself included, would rather watch the Yankees chase the pennant than the mayoral candidates duke it out.

“I would want the maximum number of people to watch the debate,” he said.

“I also have to admit that I’d rather watch the game. Wouldn’t you? . . . You have to admit the reality that huge numbers of New Yorkers want to watch the ballgame.”

The Yankees will be playing if they beat Cleveland to advance in the playoffs.

Messinger said she would debate on another day as long as Thursday’s encounter remained on the schedule, too. Giuliani aides rejected the offer.

The Campaign Finance Board scheduled the debate under a law requiring candidates to take part if they receive public financing for their campaigns. A second debate will be held later in the month.

Giuliani has rearranged his schedule for the Yankees before. He postponed a campaign fund-raiser last year because of a potential conflict with the World Series.

The debates represent a chance for Messinger to gain ground in her underdog candidacy.

Mayoral aides denied Giuliani was trying to send a message that it’s okay for people not to watch.

Meanwhile, it appeared that Brooklyn Councilman Sal Albanese, an also-ran in the Democratic mayoral primary, was moving toward endorsing Messinger, possibly this week.

Messinger participated yesterday in a march against child labor in overseas sweatshops. The march included criticism of the Disney Co.

Messinger said that she was not against patronizing Disney’s stores, but that people still could “send a message” that child labor is unacceptable. She said it would be “tragic” if Giuliani did not attend because of Disney’s business interests in the city.

Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel said it was hypocritical for Messinger to march when she accepted a $5,500 contribution from a Disney family member.