As a former Catholic schoolboy from the Bronx, surely Fernando Ferrer knows that falsehoods can trip you up.
Mr. Ferrer, the Democratic candidate for mayor, nevertheless found himself stumbling yesterday after his political opponents pointed out something amiss on his campaign Web site: a personal log entry "posted by Fernando Ferrer," in which he recalled attending "public schools for most of my education."
Mr. Ferrer actually attended Catholic schools for most of his education, graduating from the prestigious Cardinal Spellman High School with a scholarship to New York University. Certainly, he has not forgotten his Good Book amid his pursuit of votes from public school teachers, parents and graduates?
He has not, aides said yesterday. They maintained that Mr. Ferrer did not write the blog entry attributed to him.
"An item submitted by Freddy Ferrer was inaccurately edited regarding Freddy's education," Nick Baldick, the campaign manager, said in a statement. "We apologize for the mistake and have corrected the entry."
Yet even that explanation was not quite right. Jen Bluestein, a spokeswoman for the Ferrer campaign, said the candidate did not submit a written item but rather "passed on some ideas" to an aide, who then wrote three paragraphs and posted them in his name. The prose has a quality that could be confused with Mr. Ferrer's speaking style, but in whole it reads like a news release.
Asked why Mr. Ferrer was credited for words he did not write, Ms. Bluestein offered an everyone-does-it defense.
"This happens in political campaigns all the time," she said. "In this case he called in some ideas, and someone got a little loose with the editing."
Then Ms. Bluestein went on the offensive, challenging the integrity of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's campaign aides on two related fronts. She wondered why aides waited weeks to point out the error in the entry made Sept. 5 on the site (ferrer2005.com), and whether Mr. Bloomberg wrote first-person answers in the "Ask Mike" blog on his campaign Web site (mikebloomberg.com).
Stu Loeser, a spokesman for the mayor's campaign, acknowledged that his camp noticed the error "soon after it was posted" on Mr. Ferrer's site. Asked about the timing, and whether it was intended to distract attention from Mr. Ferrer's visit yesterday from Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, Mr. Loeser replied, "We don't discuss campaign strategy."
As for the authorship of "Ask Mike," Mr. Loeser replied about the mayor, "It's something he oversees and approves."
The Bloomberg and Ferrer camps are competing aggressively to win over parents of schoolchildren and Catholic New Yorkers, and the blog dust-up had both campaigns in a frenzy yesterday afternoon.
"I happen to be a proud graduate of an excellent private parochial school, and I can't imagine why anyone would hide such a fact," William Cunningham, a senior adviser for the Bloomberg campaign, said in a statement to reporters.
Mr. Loeser also asked, for the record, that it be noted the mayor attended public schools through high school in Medford, Mass.
Mr. Ferrer was bombarded with questions about the blog entry during a news conference late yesterday with Mr. Dean, at which the candidate took responsibility.
The Ferrer campaign also noted that the mayor cited falling murder rates in the South Bronx on his campaign Web site - yet did not mention that other crime rates had risen.