NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s opponents are rushing to score points in the run up to the Democratic primary debate.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro wants to cash in on Cuomo’s “foot-in-mouth” slip-up. He’s selling hats that say “America Was Never That Great: Cuomo 2020,” a double whammy that implies that governor is interested in the White House, not the statehouse. Molinaro also wants Cuomo to say he’s sorry, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.
“I’ve been married. I know what an apology sounds like and this governor hasn’t offered an apology,” Molinaro said.
Cuomo, who claimed it was an “inartful” attempt at showing he’s the man to stand up to President Donald Trump, was still at it Sunday at a Brooklyn church.
“Mr. Trump’s America, the points on the compass are not North, South, East and West. They are sexism, racism, bigotry and intolerance,” Cuomo said.
But that didn’t stop Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon from claiming Cuomo is a Johnny come lately to the anti-Trump movement.
“New York needs a governor who doesn’t need $300,000 worth of polling to tell her that opposing Donald Trump in the right thing to do,” Nixon said.
Political experts say its smart to try and make the governor’s race about Trump.
“(Cuomo) has to contend with Nixon. He can’t cast her aside, but I do think the argument to win over at least some moderate liberals is to make the case that I am the person who is best able to stand against Trump,” Iona College political professor Jeanne Zaino said.
Molinaro also released an ad attacking Cuomo’s record on fighting corruption. Cuomo said in an interview in New York Magazine that the fact that former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara couldn’t find anything to charge him with when he investigated his top aide, Joe Percoco, proves he’s honest.
“In many ways it’s the most credible exoneration in history, because Preet was a scalp hunter,” Cuomo said.
“The governor wants to pivot and say he hasn’t been implicated and that’s all true, but it doesn’t address what he’s done or failed to do as governor to clean up the system,” Zaino said.
Zaino said a lot is riding on the upcoming debate for both Cuomo and Nixon. She said Cuomo has to avoid a big mistake and also explain what he will do to clean up New York government. Nixon, she said, has to convince voters that her lack of experience won’t be a gigantic impediment.