Cuomo, Molinaro spar in only debate in NY governor's race

Posted: Updated:

NEW YORK (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo called his Republican challenger an acolyte of President Donald Trump, and Marc Molinaro punched back by assailing the Democrat as corrupt as the two candidates faced off Tuesday at their only scheduled debate before next month's election.

The exchanges were sharp and unfriendly, with constant interruptions and talking over one another.

Cuomo, at one point, called Molinaro Trump's "Mini-Me," a reference to the evil sidekick in the Austin Powers movies.

MORE: Watch the entire debate

Molinaro brought up the recent criminal conviction of a close Cuomo aide, Joseph Percoco, who traded influence for money and a cushy job for his wife.

"Governor, you have led the most corrupted state government in America," Molinaro said. "At what point, after eight years of being in office, do you take responsibility?"

MORE: Gubernatorial candidate Molinaro slams Gov. Cuomo during LI visit

Cuomo, looking for his third term, sparred with Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, at the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan. The debate was scheduled to be webcast and televised at 7 p.m. on several CBS affiliates.

Cuomo is far ahead in the polls and in fundraising, and until this weekend, showed little interest in debating his lesser-known Republican challenger.

During the debate, Cuomo made Trump, who is unpopular in the most densely populated parts of the state, the central target of his attacks.

"The extreme conservative wing that Mr. Molinaro and Mr. Trump represent exclude everything. They're anti-women. They're anti-LGBTQ," Cuomo said after a question about education policy. He brought up votes Molinaro had taken in the state Assembly, including one against a bill barring the use of handcuffs on pregnant inmates in labor. Molinaro said at the time that he did so because he thought doctors and corrections officers should have some discretion, for safety reasons.

MORE: Island Vote 2018

After Molinaro had addressed a question about homelessness by bringing in mental illness and the need for more support services, Cuomo said, "This is so hypocritical for you to sit here, an acolyte of Donald Trump, Mini-Me of Donald Trump, who is decimating health care in this state."

At one point, Cuomo asked Molinaro repeatedly if he supported Trump. Molinaro refused to answer, instead saying that he supported policies that would strengthen the country's economy and that New York's economy was lagging behind.

Molinaro, who has said he did not support Trump in 2016, criticized Cuomo's handling of the upstate economy and property taxes and accused him of abandoning responsibility for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency that oversees New York City's beleaguered transit system.

While most of the debate was heated, the last few moments turned somewhat lighthearted in a "lightning" round, where the candidates were asked about winning the lottery and what they would do with the money, as well as songs they thought represented their campaign. They both declined to sing.

The debate didn't feature the three third-party candidates: Libertarian Larry Sharpe, Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins or former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, an independent.

"A single debate without all the candidates hurts democracy," Miner said in a statement responding to Monday's debate announcement. "New Yorkers deserve better."

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Suffolk DA: BWI charges dropped in deadly Mattituck boating accident

    Suffolk DA: BWI charges dropped in deadly Mattituck boating accident

    Friday, November 22 2019 5:26 PM EST2019-11-22 22:26:44 GMT
    BWI charges have been dropped against the boat operator in a fatal Mattituck crash.BWI charges have been dropped against the boat operator in a fatal Mattituck crash.
    BWI charges have been dropped against the boat operator in a fatal Mattituck crash.BWI charges have been dropped against the boat operator in a fatal Mattituck crash.
    BWI charges have been dropped against the boat operator in a fatal Mattituck crash.
    BWI charges have been dropped against the boat operator in a fatal Mattituck crash.
  • GUIDE: SopranosCon comes to New Jersey – For the Fans, By the Fans

    GUIDE: SopranosCon comes to New Jersey – For the Fans, By the Fans

    Hey! Oh, OH! Guess what’s coming to the Meadowlands Exposition Center on Nov. 23 and 24? No, it’s not Christopher getting fake whacked in the weeds. It’s SopranosCon – and the highwater mark for 90s and early-2000s is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary.Hey! Oh, OH! Guess what’s coming to the Meadowlands Exposition Center on Nov. 23 and 24? No, it’s not Christopher getting fake whacked in the weeds. It’s SopranosCon – and the highwater mark for 90s and early-2000s is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary.
    Hey! Oh, OH! Guess what’s coming to the Meadowlands Exposition Center on Nov. 23 and 24? No, it’s not Christopher getting fake whacked in the weeds. It’s SopranosCon – and the highwater mark for 90s and early-2000s is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary.Hey! Oh, OH! Guess what’s coming to the Meadowlands Exposition Center on Nov. 23 and 24? No, it’s not Christopher getting fake whacked in the weeds. It’s SopranosCon – and the highwater mark for 90s and early-2000s is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary.
    Think Comic Con with mobsters and antipasta.
    Think Comic Con with mobsters and antipasta.
  • County Executive Bellone responds to bombshell dropped at ex-DA's trial

    County Executive Bellone responds to bombshell dropped at ex-DA's trial

    Friday, November 22 2019 6:21 PM EST2019-11-22 23:21:38 GMT
    Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded Friday to the bombshell testimony dropped at the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland.Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded Friday to the bombshell testimony dropped at the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland.
    Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded Friday to the bombshell testimony dropped at the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland.Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded Friday to the bombshell testimony dropped at the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland.
    Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded Friday to the bombshell testimony dropped at the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland.
    Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded Friday to the bombshell testimony dropped at the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland.
  • SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Dog Day Fridays for November 22

    Dog Day Fridays for November 22

    Friday, November 22 2019 9:30 AM EST2019-11-22 14:30:13 GMT
    Ripley came to us as a stray via the police. He is 1.5 years old and is absolutely adorable. He likes other dogs and is playful with them. He is sweet, fun, and walks well on the leash.Ripley came to us as a stray via the police. He is 1.5 years old and is absolutely adorable. He likes other dogs and is playful with them. He is sweet, fun, and walks well on the leash.
    Ripley came to us as a stray via the police. He is 1.5 years old and is absolutely adorable. He likes other dogs and is playful with them. He is sweet, fun, and walks well on the leash.Ripley came to us as a stray via the police. He is 1.5 years old and is absolutely adorable. He likes other dogs and is playful with them. He is sweet, fun, and walks well on the leash.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. The shelter is located at 3320 Beltagh Ave. in Wantagh. Their phone number is (516) 785-5220. The shelter's email is adoption@tohmail.org.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. The shelter is located at 3320 Beltagh Ave. in Wantagh. Their phone number is (516) 785-5220. The shelter's email is adoption@tohmail.org.
  • Congress holds public hearings in impeachment inquiry

    Congress holds public hearings in impeachment inquiry

    Photos from the public congressional hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and his administration's dealings with Ukraine.
    Photos from the public congressional hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and his administration's dealings with Ukraine.
  • Dog Day Fridays for Nov. 15

    Dog Day Fridays for Nov. 15

    Friday, November 15 2019 10:28 AM EST2019-11-15 15:28:42 GMT
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."