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Elections

Astorino, Cuomo exchange insults on campaign trail

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Republican

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Republican challenger Rob Astorino. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp; Getty Images

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, crisscrossed the region on Saturday, trading insults and shoring up their respective bases as the gubernatorial campaign heads into its final 10 days.

In remarks to a union crowd in Queens, Cuomo joked that Astorino should be on a list of mentally ill people prohibited from purchasing firearms. Astorino, meanwhile, told a Huntington Station crowd that Cuomo's aggressive fundraising shows he is a "gavone," an Italian-American slang word meaning "pig."

Cuomo and his candidate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, made stops in Westchester, Queens and Brooklyn to tout Cuomo's 10-point Women's Equality Act, which failed to clear the State Senate this year when the GOP refused to codify federal abortion rights into state law.

Astorino had six events in Suffolk County, including a GOP rally in Huntington Station, where he slammed Cuomo for the SAFE Act, the state's assault weapons ban, and for the governor's focus on abortion rights.

Astorino said Cuomo is on a "third-term abortion tour" rather than a women's equality tour, while his campaign is focused on the economy. "It's pretty easy to get an abortion in New York," he said. "It's pretty hard to get a good job."

Astorino also attacked Cuomo for continuing to solicit high-dollar campaign contributions. "How many Italians in here? You know what the definition of 'gavone' is, right?" Astorino asked the crowd. "Cuomo has $15 million [in his campaign account] and he's still making sure people write $5,000 and $10,000 checks for his campaign as of yesterday. That's an oink."

Both Astorino and Cuomo are of Italian descent.

In response later, Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing described Astorino as becoming "more unhinged" and said, "Temper tantrums, name-calling and childish outbursts might impress middle schoolers, but are beneath a candidate for governor, even one as desperate as Rob Astorino."

Astorino also told a Vietnam War veteran opposed to the SAFE Act that he would repeal the bill if elected. "If you're a legal gun owner, Andrew Cuomo took away your rights," he said. "Take away his job."

Cuomo, meanwhile, told a campaign rally in Long Island City that Astorino's pledge to repeal the SAFE Act, enacted after the Sandy Hook school shooting, would allow 34,000 mentally ill people, now barred from purchasing firearms, to acquire them.

"How crazy is that, pardon the pun," Cuomo said. "Clearly he should be on the list" of people prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

Astorino said Cuomo was "attacking mental illness. It's unfortunate and disappointing."

Astorino on Saturday also greeted prospective voters at the Sayville Chamber of Commerce fall festival, at the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and the Lindenhurst Rotary's Halloween Family Fun Day. Many who met Astorino and emerged with campaign pamphlets in their hands said they didn't know who the man was -- they'd never heard of him, or weren't planning to vote in the Nov. 4 election.

But Murray Naviloff of Bayport, who described himself as ultra conservative, said he's voting for Astorino because he's tired of high spending by Democrats.

"They're giving everything away," said Naviloff, 72, an Army veteran. "He [Astorino] is conservative. I like everything about him."

Astorino also appeared on Larry Kudlow's radio program on WABC 770 where he touted his economic plan and charged that Cuomo's campaign "was void of any ideas."

Astorino also said that his path to victory was through suburbs like Long Island. "If we win the suburbs, we win the race," he said.

Cuomo leads Astorino 54 percent to 33 percent, according to a Siena College survey released last week.

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