Cuomo-Nixon debate: Most notable moments

The Democratic gubernatorial candidates squared off in a taped-to-air debate at Hofstra University Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon sparred over a number of issues at a debate at Hofstra University Wednesday, ahead of the Democratic primary on Sept. 13. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Craig Ruttle-Pool

Ding, Ding, Ding! Let the debate zingers begin!

Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democratic gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon went head-to-head Wednesday during a taped-to-air debate at Hofstra University on Long Island.


Cuomo and Nixon took the stage around 5 p.m. for an hourlong sparring over who would be best to serve as governor of New York — the only debate to be held before the Sept. 13 primary vote.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon shake hands at Hofstra University in Hempstead on Wednesday for the Democratic gubernatorial primary debate. Photo Credit: Newsday / Pool / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Here are some of the most notable (nonlinear) moments from the debate, which aired on CBS2 at 7 p.m.

Cuomo comes out swinging against ... President Donald Trump

The governor's first remarks were dominated by comments about the president, calling Trump the "main risk" to New York and criticizing him for the White House flag flap. 

Cuomo and Nixon squabble early over interruptions

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Right out of the gate, both candidates were at each other over interruptions. A common theme throughout the debate was Cuomo demanding that Nixon stop interrupting him and Nixon replying, "If you stop lying!"

Nixon calls Cuomo an 'Albany insider'


"I’m not an Albany insider like Gov. Cuomo ... but experience doesn’t mean that much when you’re not that good at governing," Nixon said.

Cuomo vows to serve all four years, despite speculations of a 2020 presidential run

The governor stated in no uncertain terms that he will not run for president in 2020. "The only caveat is if God strikes me dead, otherwise I will serve four years as governor of New York," Cuomo said.

Nixon hits Cuomo on MTA

Nixon, who shook her head as Cuomo spoke about the beleaguered MTA, accused Cuomo of lying in his statements over the state of the transit authority.

"As someone who is on the subway literally every day I know that delays have tripled under Cuomo," she said.

Nixon also accused Cuomo of using the MTA "like an ATM," a reference to his administration moving millions in MTA funding from the state's general fund in 2017.


Transportation advocates staged a rally in New York City last week urging Cuomo to sign a bill approved by the state Legislature that would create a transit "lockbox" for the MTA.

Both candidates said they would support canceling the next fare hike in 2019 if elected. Cuomo also was steadfast in his assertion (as he has in the past) that the state and New York City need to split the cost of funding MTA fixes "50-50."

"It has to be a joint funding," the governor said.

No salary for Nixon if she's elected 

Nixon said if she's elected governor of New York, she will not take a salary.

Cuomo says he experimented with pot

While discussing marijuana policy, Cuomo admitted: "I experimented with marijuana in college."

The governor also said he believes the benefits of legalizing recreational marijuana use outweigh the risks, which falls in line with a report released by the state Department of Health that also endorsed legalizing the drug. Earlier in August, Cuomo formed a work group to draft legislation that would legalize adult, recreational use of marijuana

Nixon, who has previously voiced support for legalizing marijuana, said current drug laws have created racial disparities in the justice system and suggested New York invest money raised by legalizing marijuana in the communities harmed by the state's policies.

CBS2 moderator Maurice DuBois tells audience to simmer down

"Keep it down, let them speak," DuBois told the audience less than half way into the debate. "We’ve got a lot to get through, so please let’s hold it down."

Cuomo accuses Nixon of being a corporation

While slamming Nixon for asking "favors of friends," referencing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo accused his rival of being a corporation. In a not-so-shocking response, Nixon replied: "I'm a person!"

The back-and-forth took another turn when Cuomo mentioned the, "tea house for Sarah Jessica Parker," to which Nixon appeared confused. Cuomo then suggested she read the newspapers.

Nixon calls Cuomo corrupt

While sparring over the Independent Democratic Conference, Cuomo brought up former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support of the Republican Senate. Nixon said she wouldn't have run against Bloomberg if he were governor because, "He is not corrupt like you are." 

Nixon accuses Cuomo of taking credit for issues he was forced into supporting

She pointed specifically to paid family leave and increasing the minimum wage. Cuomo responded by saying no one forced him to do anything.

Cuomo comments on the corruption trial of his former aide, Joe Percoco

"Mr. Percoco did something wrong ... He's going to pay his price ... Everybody agrees I had nothing to do with it, period," the governor said.

Cuomo says his relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio is 'dysfunctional'

When asked if he wants de Blasio's endorsement, Cuomo said, "I love Mayor de Blasio. I'm sure he loves me in a strange sort of way." The governor said they have a "dysfunctional relationship" but he didn't answer whether he wanted the endorsement.

"No yes or no, he makes his own decisions," Cuomo added.

When asked the same question about de Blasio's endorsement, Nixon said, "This is a race I'm running on my own."