Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino reached out to Hispanic voters at a campaign stop in Glen Cove Saturday.
"I am a ciudadano de Nassau -- a citizen of Nassau -- because I'm spending so much time here," said Astorino, switching back and forth between Spanish and English before about 50 people, including more than a dozen Hispanics and African-Americans, at Mochika Peruvian Cuisine and Lounge.
"As a state are we winning or losing?" he asked in Spanish. "Losing, because we have the worst business climate, and we have the highest taxes in the nation."
A Sept. 24 Siena College poll showed Latino voters evenly split -- 47 percent to 47 percent -- on whether they wanted to re-elect Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo or would prefer someone else.
Latino voters were more positive about Cuomo when asked whether he had made the state a better place to live over the past four years, with 69 percent saying he had made it better and 25 percent saying he had made things worse.
Wendy Servellon, who came to Glen Cove from El Salvador 25 years ago and runs a sewing business, said she welcomed Astorino's use of Spanish.
"I love that," Servellon said. She said she came out to support him because she's concerned about the economy and taxes and was glad he talked about diversity.
"We mix. It's good. Like a salad," she said.
Astorino criticized Cuomo for jetting to Santo Domingo and San Juan on Friday to meet with the president of the Dominican Republic and governor of Puerto Rico.
"I was in the South Bronx with Dominicans and Puerto Ricans here in New York, and I don't know the last time he's ever walked the streets of the South Bronx," Astorino said.
The Cuomo campaign responded by emailing a quote attributed to Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, in which he said critics of the visit were being disrespectful.
"This community views this as a sign of respect and shared values, values that we have in common," Padilla said. "And seeing those who criticize this visit to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic -- that is a sign of a lack of respect to the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities in New York."