Andrew Cuomo, Democratic candidate for governor, shrugged off a Quinnipiac poll released today that found Republican Carl Paladino trails him by just 6 percentage points. Cuomo, the attorney general, has enjoyed comfortable leads over potential opponents for month. Paladino defeated Rick Lazio in a GOP primary last week.
“There’ll be a poll out tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I take them all with a grain of salt. I think there’s no doubt that Mr. Paladino won an election last week and he got a lot of publicity for winning an election and the polls often reflect publicity. I, as I said, I take all polls with a grain of salt. There’s only one that matters, which is what they say, and that’s the one on Election Day, and the campaign has just started.”
Cuomo, who spoke to reporters after a news conference on a narcotics sweep in the Albany area, said he is “open to debating” Paladino. “There is a question who, when, how, is Mr. Lazio in the race, is Mr. Lazio out of the race. Those details have to be worked out, but yes, I am open to debating,” he told reporters.
Lazio received the Conservative Party nomination. He has not decided whether he will pull out of the race, he said earlier today.
Cuomo said he would not get into a “gutter campaign” or “name-calling campaign” with Paladino, an aggressive campaigner who has been critical of Cuomo. “I am not going to respond to these childish taunts,” the attorney general said.
When asked if he could give a “constructive critique” of Paladino, Cuomo said it isn’t his place to critique the Buffalo businessman.
Cuomo initially said he couldn’t comment on how he and Paladino differ on the issues because he doesn’t know Paladino’s issues. When reminded that they include cutting state spending, taxes and Medicaid, Cuomo criticized Paladino’s stance on Medicaid, a program that serves poor and disabled New Yorkers. New York receives a 50 percent match from the federal government for Medicaid. The state and counties split the cost.
“He talks about cutting the Medicaid program by $20 billion. That would eliminate the Medicaid program in the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “The state spends $20 billion on the Medicaid program. Unless the position is we’ll have no senior citizens in nursing homes…you know, that would eliminate the Medicaid program. But … I’m not familiar with his issues.”