Cuomo offers to debate on Saturday; Opponent raises Shabbat

NEW YORK — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Republican challenger Marc Molinaro exchanged barbs on Friday over a hastily arranged debate that Molinaro felt could alienate an important voting bloc, the Orthodox Jewish community across New York State.

During a radio interview with CBS 880 Friday morning, Cuomo challenged his opponent for a radio debate on Saturday saying he’s too busy on weekdays.

“You want to call me tomorrow I will be here,” Cuomo suggested to the radio hosts when asked if he would commit to a debate before the Nov. 6 election. “If you want to do it with Mr. Molinaro I will be here. But just let me know, because it’s my daughter’s parents weekend at college, so you want to do it same time, same place, I’m here.”

“We are going to extend the invitation, the hosts, Wayne Cabot and Paul Murnane, responded. “If not tomorrow, maybe we do it on Monday. Just sit down with a moderated talk about some issues. You game for that?”

However, Cuomo refused to commit to another date but for Saturday. “Yeah. Well, I’ll be here tomorrow. Monday I have a schedule,” he said.

Molinaro refused to take the challenge, claiming that observant Jewish New Yorkers would find it disrespectful that the only debate between the two candidates is taking place on the Sabbath.

“Jewish voters are not an afterthought, but that’s exactly how Andrew Cuomo is treating these important New Yorkers in preposterously suggesting a last-second Shabbat morning radio debate,” Molinaro told Jewish Insider. “He ought to be ashamed of himself. We know Mr. Cuomo is a coward who doesn’t want his failures challenged in a statewide, multi-media forum, but now he shows just how out of tune he is with observant New Yorkers.”

“I will always be respectful and responsive to our religious communities as governor,” Molinaro added.

The Cuomo campaign called Molinaro’s attack an “absurd excuse.”

“WCBS could air statewide and any station can re-air it numerous times. WCBS would obviously make the debate available statewide – and welcome to 2018 and new technology – listeners now download and engage at their convenience,” Cuomo’s spokesperson Dani Lever said in a statement.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.