Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Some Cautious Debate Dates for the Governor

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Governor Cuomo may be less afraid of the Taliban than squaring off against his Republican opponent on TV.

While Cuomo was busy making a surprise trip to Afghanistan this weekend, his campaign announced that Cuomo is willing to hold a head-to-head debate with Rob Astorino -- but only on the radio.

Like some of his predecessors – including his father – Cuomo seems positively allergic to debates. An advocate of transparency in government and even a supporter of a campaign finance law that would mandate them, the governor doesn't want to practice what he preaches.

Four years ago, Cuomo appeared in one televised debate – with six other candidates in a setting that was more Barnum & Bailey than Lincoln and Douglas. Now he's signing off on a TV debate in Buffalo with just four other candidates. At this rate, we'll get a one-on-one debate on TV in eight years.

While it's a step in the right direction that Cuomo will actually participate in a debate with just Astorino, it's odd that in the 21st century, a camera won't be there to record and transmit the event. Cuomo isn't debating Leonardo DiCaprio but he's certainly acting like it, afraid that Astorino will somehow provide a stronger telegenic image than he will in their forum.

The governor is a big fan of the radio, speaking for years on Fred Dicker's program before having a falling-out with the Albany legend. Cuomo now is more of a familiar fixture on Susan Arbetter's show, avoiding all TV interviews on NY1 and submitting to just one in four years with Time Warner Cable's Liz Benjamin.

Losing control seems to be a fear of Cuomo's -- but there's nothing wrong with giving voters a little more control by seeing you debate your ideas in action.

And it's downright odd that we'll have more pictures of the governor from Afghanistan than we will of him debating only his main rival.

Bob Hardt

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