Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is currently calling for a one-on-one debate with Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo, saying, "I've accepted the WABC debate, and so should Andrew Cuomo." For his part, Cuomo has told reporters, "I'm not inclined to do any more debates, no." Given the utter nonsense that was the first debate, with seven candidates vying for face time, each trying to make a more ridiculous statement than the other, I'm inclined to agree with Cuomo.
What is most baffling about Paladino's request for a two-party debate is the big deal he made of having a seven-way contest when Cuomo wanted only himself, Paladino, and Conservative Party candidate Rick Lazio to debate back in September. Back then Paladino's camp sent out an email chiding Cuomo that said, "Why is Andrew Cuomo trying to limit the debate to white men only?" The email reinforced Paladino's desire for an all-inclusive debate by saying, "Carl Paladino wants to include all candidates for Governor of New York - not just the white guys."
But now Paladino wants, in his own words, "just the white guys" while Cuomo does not. Paladino cannot have his cake and eat it, too.
And why should Andrew Cuomo debate Carl Paladino? A recent Siena Poll shows Cuomo leading Paladino 63 to 26 percent; Cuomo would have everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain.
Cuomo knows that Paladino does not need an opponent at a lectern ten feet away to make significant, vote-costing gaffes. Paladino has been known to forward emails to friends of horse-on-woman sex, a picture depicting Barack Obama and his wife as a pimp and a hoe, as well as a picture of a cargo plane landing on an airstrip with black people running in front of it with the tag line, "run niggers, run!" He's also branded himself as the family values candidate by being virulently anti-gay, telling a group of rabbis that children should not be "brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option - it isn't," all the while having fathered a child during an extra-marital affair with a former employee.
Some people might compare this to the Scott Brown vs. Martha Coakley special Senate race in Massachusetts, where Coakley got way too comfortable and did all but hand the election to Brown. The key difference here is that Carl Paladino ≠ Scott Brown. Not even close. While they may have similar stances on the issues, the way that they portray their stances on the issues differs wildly. Brown drove around Massachusetts in a pickup truck and called Kennedy's former Senate seat "the people's seat." Paladino threatens the lives of New York Post reporters and talks about guys in Speedos grinding on each other.
Let me throw a quick scenario at you: you're walking down the street, about to head into the subway and a man who clearly is slightly off in some way jumps in front of you talking about the Illuminati or how the FBI is following him or how he just needs another $5 to get a bus to Jersey. Would you sit there and seriously engage with him, legitimately debate him about what he is saying? Neither would Andrew Cuomo.