ALBANY, NY (AP / CBS 2 / WCBS 880/ 1010 WINS) – Republican Carl Paladino said Monday’s debate had a “terrible format” and he wants a better chance to grill Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the front-runner in the race to be New York’s next governor.
Paladino on Tuesday called for more debates in the last two weeks of the campaign, including one upstate. He told WOR-AM that he consulted with the five minor party candidates in the race and they agree at least one more debate is needed.
Cuomo’s campaign declined to comment. Cuomo, the state’s attorney general, was in Poughkeepsie on Tuesday, continuing his stump speech on the need to cut New York’s taxes. His plan includes consolidating small government entities, including towns, villages, and fire districts.
The seven-way debate Monday at Hofstra University on Long Island was unwieldy, giving only a minute or so for answers, less time for rebuttals, and no direct engagement between Paladino and Cuomo. Their responses were separated by those of Jimmy McMillan, the candidate for the Rent is 2 Damn High party.
Paladino didn’t say how the format should be changed, but indicated he still wants the minor party candidates involved. Paladino first challenged Cuomo to daily debates on Sept. 14, but Cuomo has accepted just one.
“Andrew thinks he does much better with the voters when he avoids debates, but New Yorkers are catching on to that strategy,” Paladino said.
The debate was probably the only chance to see Cuomo and Paladino challenge each other in person, but the crowded field at Hofstra University made that impossible. Instead, as CBS 2HD’s Don Dahler reports, they addressed the voters.
“The question is who can actually do it. Who can get it done,” Cuomo said.
“My critics, they want to say I’m angry. No, I’m passionate about saving New York,” Paladino said.
Passion wasn’t lacking from the other candidates, either. McMillan will undoubtedly become a YouTube star. Lower rent was his answer to every issue. “Rent is too damn high,” he said, many times.
Manhattan Madam Kirsten Davis was certain she could run the MTA better than it is. The Anti-Prohibition Party candidate said, “The big difference between my agency and the MTA is that I had one set of books and I had on time, reliable service.”
Libertarian Warren Redlich said there’s too much bureaucracy. “The money that we waste comes out of good pockets. Give us 300 bucks and we can talk over pizza and a six-pack once a month,” he said.
And Freedom party candidate Charles Barron thinks the rich should shoulder more of the financial burden. “It’s easy to be a political bully and take it out on the poor,” he said.
Despite the strangeness of it all, political observers said it wasn’t a complete waste of voters’ time. “I actually think the minor party candidiates did serve a purpose. I mean some of it had a circus air to it. Some were clearly trying to make a very, very particular point, but if you didn’t have some of these guys, nobody would be talking about housing. Nobody would be talking about a progressive tax system,” said Hofstra U. Professor Larry Levy.
McMillan emerged as the most memorable character in what some critics are calling a farce and an embarrassment. One of his many answers that left people scratching their heads was his solution to the state’s $8 billion deficit. “It’s like a cancer,” he said. “It will heal itself.”