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Cuomo courts Hispanic voters at NYC rallies

City University of New York students that are

City University of New York students that are members of the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee disrupt a campaign rally for New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at Hostos Community College in the Bronx on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo courted Hispanic voters at back-to-back rallies in New York City Sunday while his Republican opponent Rob Astorino criticized the outreach as coming too late into the governor's first term.

At rallies in the Bronx and in Washington Heights -- one of which was disrupted by protesters -- Cuomo cast Astorino, the Westchester County executive, as "ultraconservative" without mentioning him by name.

"This is a different type of election," Cuomo told a crowd of about 200 at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. "The Republicans who are running now are ultraconservative like we've never seen before."

Astorino campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in an email that the "ultraconservative" tag was false. Astorino, she said, "was twice elected by double-digit margins in a 2-1 Democratic County."

Cuomo boasted to the crowd that he had long-standing ties to the Bronx dating back to the 1970s, when his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, put him in charge of campaign efforts there when the elder Cuomo first ran for mayor of New York City.

The event at Hostos, which featured Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, was interrupted twice by protesters.

One man was escorted out by security officers after he waved an Astorino bumper sticker and repeatedly yelled the Republican's name. The man declined to comment to reporters outside Hostos.

A crowd of about a dozen student protesters were also removed as they started calling Cuomo "anti-immigrant" midway through his speech.

"He does not represent the interests of our community, though he likes to stand up there and say he does," said Tafadar Sourov, 19, a CUNY philosophy major.

Campaigning earlier in the day at a Brooklyn church, Astorino criticized the timing of Cuomo's campaign stops in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods, which came two days after the governor visited Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to meet with dignitaries there.

Cuomo said he and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, would continue to push the state legislature to pass a version of the Dream Act that would allow immigrant children who are in the country illegally to attend state schools and pay in-state tuition.

"We believe in immigration, we are all immigrants," Cuomo told a crowd of about 200 at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Community Center in Washington Heights. "We're not afraid of diversity, we invite everyone into the family of New York."

Cuomo ended his remarks speaking in Spanish, telling the crowd in Washington Heights "somos uno," or "we are one."

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