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Cuomo, Astorino camps spar again over debates

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, on

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, on Jan. 8, 2014 in Albany, and his Republican opponent Rob Astorino on March 7, 2014 in Albany. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's campaign said Saturday he is willing to participate in two election debates, but Republican foe Rob Astorino rejected the terms as "insulting to the people of New York State" because their only faceoff would not be televised.

Cuomo's spokesman said the governor agreed to two debates:

A two-way, radio-only encounter with Astorino, the Westchester County executive, in New York City sponsored by WNYC public radio and The Wall Street Journal.

A televised Buffalo debate that would also include the nominees from the Green and Libertarian parties, sponsored by public media outlets WBFO-WNED and The Buffalo News.

"Governor Cuomo is looking forward to a robust discussion of ideas at both debates," campaign spokesman Matt Wing said.

Astorino's spokeswoman Jessica Proud ridiculed the offer, which she said was decided by Cuomo without consulting their camp:

"This is more games from Andrew Cuomo . . . We have called for at least one televised debate between the two major party candidates, as is custom in every election from president of the United States on down."

In response, Wing pointed to a recent statement by Astorino that Cuomo "pick a date, and say, 'we'll show up.' "

"We held up our end, if Astorino wants to pull a 180 that's entirely up to him," Wing said.

He did not address Proud's allegation about the lack of consultation.

Cuomo has been accused by rivals of avoiding debates. He refused to debate his Democratic primary challenger, law professor Zephyr Teachout.

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