Cuomo Green Exchange Sharp Words in Final Debate
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The two leading Democratic candidates for state attorney general exchanged harsh words in the their final debate prior to Tuesday’s primary election.
Yesterday’s debate, hosted by the New York City Bar Association, was the most substantive, but turned ugly in the final moments when Mark Green used his closing comments to criticize Andrew Cuomo and demand that he answer questions about his record in public service.
Mr. Green, who is trailing in the polls but seems to have experienced a bump of momentum, and Mr. Cuomo, the front-runner, have been at each other’s throats for months. The attacks have ramped up this week.
Earlier this week, one of the candidates in the race, Charlie King, the only African American running, dropped out. Also, the Village Voice published a story about Mr. Cuomo’s close relationship with a developer who was sued for paying kickbacks to the owners of federally subsidized housing projects.
Yesterday, Mr. Green demanded that Mr. Cuomo explain that relationship and defend his record as secretary of housing and urban development under President Clinton. Mr. Cuomo dismissed Mr. Green as a perpetual negative campaigner. He refused to provide answers other than to say that Mr. Green was “factually incorrect.” The Cuomo campaign later said Mr. Green was grasping for anything in the final days of the campaign.
The debate — which also included a third candidate, Sean Patrick Maloney — was for the most part substantive. The candidates answered questions on everything from environmental priorities to whether they would target online sexual predators if elected.
Mr. Maloney said he wanted a “code of conduct” to require MySpace.com, a popular online network of individual profiles, to get proof of age from anyone logging on.
Mr. Green said that while sex predators should be prosecuted, district attorneys should handle it. Mr. Cuomo seemed to suggest that there was room for some monitoring, but did not directly answer the questions. All three said they would attempt to change the culture in Albany, but Mr. Maloney said: “Asking somebody with all of the support of the political insiders to reform Albany is a little bit like asking a fish to ride a bicycle.”
While Messrs. Cuomo and Maloney said they would enforce all state laws even if they disagreed with them, just as the current attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, fought the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Mr. Green said he would make an exception if there was a “legal, statutory, or moral” rationale not to.
Mr. Cuomo — who has more party backing and more money than the two other candidates combined — yesterday was endorsed by the Reverend Al Sharpton, which is expected to give him a boost of support among African Americans.
“We have not always been on the same page, but we’ve always been in the same book,” Mr. Sharpton said. The winner of the primary will face Republican Jeannine Pirro in November.