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Molinaro issues a 'civility challenge' to Cuomo as election nears

New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro.

New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro. Credit: Newsday/William Perlman

POUGHKEEPSIE — Republican candidate for governor Marc Molinaro on Monday called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, his opponent, to join him in suspending all negative ads and personal attacks in the final days of the campaign, saying the “disturbing events of the past week have made it clear that the tone is too fevered.”

Molinaro said he was referring to the bombs sent last week to national Democratic figures and CNN and Saturday's mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The Republican is trailing Cuomo in the polls and is low on campaign cash, but he said his “civility challenge” wasn’t self-serving. He said it was about not adding to the “fevered pitch” and calling opponents “enemies.”

“What I’ve experienced and what the American people have experienced over the last several days demands leadership … This is what leadership looks like,” Molinaro told reporters. “I have watched the governor talk about civility. I am challenging the governor to live up to that. … We have to show New Yorkers we are better than this.”

Cuomo, who was in Brentwood Monday to announce a state grant, said he has been calling for a more civil political discourse. But he gave no direct response to Molinaro’s call to stop all negative advertising in the remaining days of the campaign.

“I have been calling for civility for weeks,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think this is a New York-based issue. I think this is a national-based issue.”

Later Monday, Cuomo campaign aide Dani Lever said the governor’s negative campaign ads about Molinaro have “been down for days.” Lever added, “We are glad Marc Molinaro is finally joining the governor’s repeated calls for civility and if Molinaro wants to ask someone to be civil, he should start with the President.”

Molinaro said that during their one and only faceoff of the campaign — held last week — Cuomo engaged in the “angriest debate” in New York’s recent history. Among other barbs, the Democrat accused the Republican of putting “children in cages,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s family separation policies at the border. Cuomo has focused his efforts on tying Molinaro to the polices of the Republican president, who isn’t popular in New York.

Molinaro said he sought to focus on policy issues, though at one point he accused Cuomo of running the “most corrupt administration” in the nation. He also didn’t refer to Trump, whom Cuomo has accused of setting the vitriolic tone from the White House.

“We have to stop it,” Molinaro said. “We are not enemies. We are opponents.”

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