NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was a stunning development in the New York governor’s race Friday, when after weeks of ducking and dodging, Andrew Cuomo has suddenly agreed to debate his Republican opponent.

But there’s a catch — the offer only extends to a debate on the radio at 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Marc Molinaro says he won’t participate in an unplanned, “pop up” debate that’s not on TV or properly prepared.

Marc Molinaro (credit: CBS2)

Multiple media outlets, including CBS2, have proposed a general election debate without success between Gov. Cuomo and Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive.

As the clock ticked down to election day, Cuomo continued to evade his challenger until Friday morning, when he made the shocking offer on WCBS 880.

SEE: Full coverage of Campaign 2018

“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,” the governor said on the radio.

“If you want to moderate a discussion I will be here,” Cuomo added in his sudden gesture.

But Molinaro, who has been fruitlessly trying to get the governor on the debate stage for weeks, said he’s not taking an offer without TV cameras present.

“Get WCBS-TV, get CBS television, get Marcia Kramer right there, and let’s promote it. You cannot expect that voters want two people to debate 8 a.m. on a Saturday with no notice… That’s not a debate, it’s a staged fraud on the taxpayers of New York.”

Molinaro continued his attack on the seemingly empty gesture via Twitter. The Republican even compared Cuomo to the “Cowardly Lion” from “The Wizard of Oz.” He then threw down the gauntlet for the governor to face him on CBS2 in a one-hour, televised debate during the work week.

“On what planet does the incumbent governor get to dictate that voters come crawling to him at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning?” Molinaro said on the same radio station.

A spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo replied in a statement:

“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… 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.”

Molinaro fired back, calling the incumbent’s offer a “scam.”

“This is a fraud that he’s trying to perpetuate in order to check a box and say ‘I offered it, he doesn’t want it’,” Molinaro told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer. “Give me a break, he doesn’t want to appear before the public because he can’t defend his record.”

The challenger says he’s also worried that Jewish voters who celebrate the Sabbath will be left out of a potential Saturday morning debate.

Despite all the blather from both sides, the question remains: Will they both call into WCBS 880 when the time comes?


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