Cuomo to Nixon: I'll stop lying when you do

CNN's Jason Carroll reports on the shots taken at the debate between New York gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon.

Posted: Aug 31, 2018 7:41 AM
Updated: Aug 31, 2018 7:41 AM

A few minutes into New York's sole Democratic primary debate for governor, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- who is running for a third term -- fielded a question that has been on the minds of many: Will he be a candidate for president in 2020?

"You're not running for president?" asked the debate's moderator, Maurice DuBois.

"No. I'm running for governor of New York," said Cuomo, who is fighting a challenge from actor Cynthia Nixon, best known as a co-star of the "Sex in the City" TV series.

Pressed for a direct promise to serve out a full term, Cuomo slammed the door shut on any further speculation about a presidential run.

"The only caveat is if God strikes me dead," he said. "Otherwise I will serve four years as governor of New York."

Assuming he wins re-election, Cuomo should be dropped from the short list of possible Democratic candidates for president in 2020.

But that doesn't mean the governor is ignoring national issues. On the contrary: Cuomo and Nixon may have been lobbing attacks at each other ("Can you stop interrupting?" and "Can you stop lying?) on stage at Hofstra University, but it's clear that Cuomo and other Democrats have discovered that the quickest, most effective way to draw applause these days is to attack President Trump early and often.

"Today, you have to fight Donald Trump, who is the main risk to the state of New York," Cuomo said. "He is trying to change the rights and values of New Yorkers and the first line of defense is New York and the governor leads that fight and you need to know how to do it."

Focusing on Trump helps Cuomo in two ways. By keeping the attention on national affairs, Cuomo shifts it away from the weaknesses in his record in New York. He has been struggling to find ways to grow the sluggish economy of upstate New York, and a corruption scandal recently saw the conviction of a close aide and a top development expert.

Every day spent exchanging insults with the President on Twitter is a day Cuomo doesn't have to answer questions about how he plans to fix the subways, clean up the contaminated water in an upstate village or rebuild the state's crumbling roads, bridges and pipes.

And by positioning himself as a principal antagonist of the President, Cuomo gets a second political benefit: He can claim to be a more effective defender of progressive causes than Nixon.

Noting that Trump has attacked him on Twitter regularly, Cuomo turned the conflict into a kind of boast. "I welcome it. Know me by my enemies," Cuomo said.

All of which left Nixon in a difficult position. Cuomo has more money, more experience and higher name recognition than his challenger, and under the best of circumstances, it would be difficult for Nixon to unseat an entrenched incumbent.

But Cynthia Nixon made an already tough task even harder Wednesday night by making her attacks broad and ideological rather than specific and pragmatic.

Nixon has never served in government in any capacity, and has not managed any large institutions in the public, private or charitable sectors. That contrasts sharply with Cuomo's decades of experience, which includes two terms as governor, four years as state Attorney General and a stint in the 1990s as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton.

Nixon did deliver a pretty good zinger that partly neutralized the advantage conferred by Cuomo's resume. "Experience doesn't mean that much if you're actually not good at governing," she said. (Zing!) But she needed to follow up on the line by unfurling —and repeating as often as possible — a list of shortcomings and failed programs that Cuomo has accumulated over the years.

Nixon has positions on the state's subways, schools, public housing and criminal justice system, for instance, that contrast with Cuomo's. She has direct political experience as a high-profile advocate for increases in educational funding, and brought much of that passion — but not nearly enough — to the debate.

"New York has the second most unequal education system, when it comes to funding, in the entire nation," Nixon said early on. But she didn't deploy the old debater's trick of circling back to the topic over and over.

She also could have—and should have—noted specific Cuomo economic initiatives that flopped, such as a push for casino gambling that hasn't delivered as promised and the building of an expensive film and television center that went largely unused and was later sold for a dollar.

With only two weeks to go until Primary Day, Nixon made the most of her one and only shot on the same stage as Cuomo. But the governor won a debate that should have been about his record by changing the subject and making a local New York race all about Donald Trump.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
Bolivar3955106
Oktibbeha390380
Panola365076
Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 33°
Columbus
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 30°
Oxford
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 27°
Starkville
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather