Will Cuomo & Molinaro Meet for an Impromptu Debate?

Maybe Governor Cuomo and his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro will debate afterall...or maybe they won't.

Cuomo was a guest on WCBS 880 in NYC Friday morning where he was asked about if he'll debate Molinaro. Here's the transcript:

WCBS 880: Governor, we're going to post a link to that video on our website just in case people want to check it out, what you're talking about. You were mentioning about the ultimate day when they'll put you, like the rest of us, 6 feet under, but I know you'd like four more years before that happens. And with the election coming up, what will it take to get you to debate your opponent?

Governor Cuomo: Look, in this crazy political environment right now. Where everything is politics. Everything is politics. I've never seen anything like it. And it's all baloney, to use a polite word on your radio station. They want to debate the idea of debates. They don't want to actually debate. My opponent, who's now so eager to debate, refused to debate in his primary. The New York Post, that now believes debates are the bastion of democracy, when their Republican candidate George Pataki was running against Speaker Vallone, a quality public servant from New York City, Peter Vallone, Pataki wouldn't debate and they didn't say a word. You know, it's all partisan politics. They want to debate the idea of debates. It's an issue. He has nothing else to say my opponent. He is an extreme conservative.

WCBS 880: But governor how do we know that? Why couldn't we just get the two of you to stand up and talk to each other for an hour or so?

Governor Cuomo: You hear him every day. He has not put forth a substantive idea. All he has said is he's against women's rights. He invited a hate group to New York to speak last week, that created violence on the streets. There is no substance from him. It's all ad hominem attacks, it's all nasty, and it's all this ultra-conservative diatribe. Anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-diversity.

WCBS 880: Governor, we appreciate the last half hour you've given to us. We'll give a lot more time than that if you want to come on and debate your opponent.

Governor Cuomo: Has it been a half an hour? It's been -

WCBS 880: Did I say half an hour? Whatever, 10 minutes. A New York half hour.

Governor Cuomo: Alright, a New York -

WCBS 880: Governor, tell you what, invitation to come by WCBS, sit down with Mr. Molinaro, and talk about issues. We'll have a moderator so it doesn't turn into some of these attacks that you've talked about, from either side. Would you come in and sit down and talk about it?

Governor Cuomo: He doesn't say anything but attacks; that's all it is. It's a stage for more ultra-conservative diatribe, which I think is actually destructive to the body politic. I don't want to hear—last week they invited a group called the Proud Boys. The Proud Boys are a hate group, they are a white supremacist group, anti-women group and there was violence after they brought the Proud Boys and they brought them to the Republican headquarters.

WCBS 880: We'd like you to just say this directly to him, and again we'll extend the offer to do it here. I get the impression that you're either saying no or you don't want to commit yourself to that, but if you change your mind we're right here, 880 on your dial.

Governor Cuomo: I have no problem fighting against the forces of hate. I don't. I don't think it's an especially constructive dialogue, I believe it fuels the ugliness that is politics. But I am here, you want to call me tomorrow I will be here. If you want to do it with Mr. Molinaro I will be here. If you want to moderate a discussion, I will be here. But just let me know, because it's my daughter's parents weekend at college, so you want to do it same time, same place I'm here. But let me know otherwise I have to go see my daughter, so let me know this morning. But, there has to be a moderator who keeps the conversation relatively substantive, rather than what has been happening, which is the spewing of vileness and hatred. New York is a fragile society based on diversity.

WCBS 880: I tell you what Governor, we're going to take you up on that. We are going to extend the invitation to Mr. Molinaro. Let's not even call it a debate, because as you say, maybe there's negative connotations with the word debate. But we're going to extend the invitation. If not tomorrow, maybe we do it on Monday. Just sit down with a moderated talk about some issues. You game for that?

Governor Cuomo: Yeah. Well I'll be here tomorrow. Monday I have a schedule.

WCBS 880: Tomorrow it is. We'll make it happen.

Governor Cuomo: Yeah. Okay.

WCBS 880: And by the way.

Governor Cuomo: Yes?

WCBS 880: I am sure your daughter would love to have you there, and by all means you should be there for parent's day. I'll just tell you my experience with my daughter, she didn't want me near. Same thing with my son. But I'm sure it's different for you, so I get that.

Governor Cuomo: Well it's actually not. Funny you should say that—it's actually not different. And I do get the sense that once there in college, the last thing they really want is their parent around.

WCBS 880: But we need that as parents, I get it.

Governor Cuomo: I need it. I need it. I sort of forced myself into this invitation. But I will make it work if you can—I'll be here same time, same place. Call it a debate if you want, call it whatever you want. I'll be here, but just let me know so I don't have to rearrange my daughter's trip.

WCBS 880: You're on. Governor Andrew Cuomo, we are going to extend the invitation to your opponent, and maybe we will be talking with you on the radio tomorrow. We appreciate your time.

Here's the audio from that interview.

Later in the morning, Governor Cuomo's campaign released this statement:

The Governor has said repeatedly that Marc Molinaro wants to “debate the debate issue” rather than actually have a debate. The New York Post is selective in their opinion and had no problem when Mr. Molinaro refused to debate his opponent Senator DeFrancisco, while the Governor debated his primary opponent. Likewise, when Governor Pataki refused to debate Council Speaker Peter Vallone because he was “not credible” in Governor Pataki’s opinion despite the fact that Speaker Vallone was one of the most experienced elected officials in the state. The Governor was invited and agreed this morning to call in to debate Mr. Molinaro on WCBS 880 radio at their invitation tomorrow morning. The Governor’s only stipulation was that he needed to know this morning because he was willing to reschedule a long standing personal engagement to make it possible. 

Mr. Molinaro has refused the WCBS invitation on the theory that listeners need time to schedule listening to the debate. It is an absurd excuse. WCBS could air statewide and any station can re-air it numerous times. WCBS would obviously make the debate available statewide – and welcome to 2018 and new technology – listeners now download and engage at their convenience. This situation vindicates what the Governor has said all along, which is Mr. Molinaro only wants to “debate the debate.” The Governor will take his campaign to the people directly. If the New York Post had any objectivity, we would see Mr. Molinaro in a chicken suit tomorrow.

So we'll just have to see if the two meet, if not Saturday...at all. Reports are that Molinaro would rather have a debate that is during a weekday and also on TV.

Photo: Getty Images

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