Cynthia Nixon-Andrew Cuomo debate

J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday  AP

Cuomo, who is seeking a third term this year, had begun his first and only debate with Nixon by promising not to run for president.

Gov. Cuomo: Can you please stop interrupting? Cuomo says he's led the charge against the White House; Nixon said the governor hasn't fought the White House hard enough. He pointedly criticized Trump for his anti-immigration rhetoric and desire to limit access to abortion.

At Long Island's Hofstra University, the two candidates engaged in an often contentious debate, which included accusations of lying on both sides.

Cynthia Nixon speaks during the Democratic gubernatorial primary debate with Cynthia Nixon at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York August 29, 2018.

Cuomo has been considered a possible presidential contender. According to Nixon aide Rebecca Katz, CBS were "very frank" in admitting that if they didn't accede to Cuomo's list of requests for the debate "he wouldn't show up".

Nixon disagreed, responding, "You stood up to him about as well as he stood up to Putin".

Andrew Cuomo answers a question during a gubernatorial debate with Democratic New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon at Hofstra University in Hempstead New York Aug. 29 2018
Craig Ruttle EPA via Rex Shutterstock

"Excuse me, can you stop interrupting?"

Cuomo responded that Nixon doesn't understand the challenges of leading the nation's fourth largest state and lives in a "world of fiction", while he resides in the real world where you don't just "snap your fingers" and change happens.

Cuomo said: 'My opponent, as a corporate donor to the mayor, called the mayor's office for special favors for her friends'. "As soon as you do".

Hours before the debate, it emerged that Cuomo ordered the NY attorney general's office to halt an investigation into whether Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. mishandled 2015 allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein after the governor received $25,000 from the firm representing the disgraced Hollywood mogul. The current governor has a long record of government service and had raised almost 50 times more money than Nixon, according to financial disclosures filed last month.

The debate became heated following a question about New York's MTA, which Nixon said Cuomo had left underfunded. He returned to the attack several times, while Nixon explained that she would be a more reliable progressive, and would try to turn NY into a model for that kind of governance instead of one where moderate Democrats cut deals with Republicans.

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