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.

Confirmed Cases: 16041

Reported Deaths: 767
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds103526
Lauderdale74568
Madison74525
Neshoba70742
Jones66331
Scott66112
Forrest59439
DeSoto5538
Leake44712
Rankin4468
Holmes43928
Copiah3154
Jackson30813
Attala30318
Yazoo2864
Newton2824
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Lincoln27029
Monroe26525
Harrison2637
Oktibbeha25314
Lamar2485
Lowndes2309
Wayne2242
Pearl River21131
Pike20411
Adams20015
Noxubee1916
Washington1917
Warren18110
Covington1732
Jasper1654
Lee1657
Bolivar16511
Clarke15419
Smith15311
Kemper14711
Lafayette1414
Chickasaw13714
Coahoma1274
Winston1211
Marion1179
Carroll11711
Clay1154
Claiborne1122
Lawrence1061
Simpson1020
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Yalobusha966
Tate951
Hancock9112
Itawamba897
Wilkinson859
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Webster683
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Walthall610
Humphreys597
Tunica563
Prentiss563
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc433
Jefferson431
Tishomingo340
Quitman340
Stone310
Franklin292
Tallahatchie291
George261
Greene221
Alcorn181
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18474

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2283118
Jefferson1882103
Montgomery180243
Tuscaloosa81616
Marshall7059
Franklin5768
Lee55234
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43166
Butler41618
Walker3782
Elmore3739
Chambers35826
Madison3444
Morgan2971
Baldwin2929
Unassigned2922
Dallas2823
Etowah26112
DeKalb2563
Lowndes25512
Autauga2395
Coffee2381
Sumter2267
Houston2235
Bullock2136
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1789
Russell1770
Barbour1751
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1672
Calhoun1653
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1527
Cullman1501
Clarke1482
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1041
Greene954
Winston910
Macon864
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia743
Washington726
Blount631
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