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The statement said that the debate was presented as a "take-it-or-leave-it" scenario, "at Andrew Cuomo's chosen location and TV station, in his preferred format, with a favorable audience, and on a date in the last week of August when a minimum of New Yorkers will be watching".

The two candidates engaged in testy exchanges over who was telling the truth and what their personal finances show, but neither appeared to commit any major gaffes in what is the first and only scheduled debate of the primary. And in a Democratic primary, it doesn't matter much that state-level single-payer health care and draconian rent control and letting public employees strike would all be disastrous in reality: Voters in the September 13 primary will eat it up.

Cuomo hit back with Trumpian fervor, repeatedly attacking Nixon's credibility. Asked about making it easier for workers to strike, Nixon said that she meant to empower people who simply wanted fair wages and saw no other resort. She advised anyone attending a Cuomo event "take a coat, or maybe a blanket".

Cuomo, who has been even more dismissive of Nixon than he was of Teachout, portrayed his opponent as a head-in-the-clouds socialist. This is real life.

Cuomo made news early in the debate, vowing to serve a full four-year term should he win in November.

Debate moderator Maurice du Bois asked the governor point blank whether he could promise the people of NY that he would not run for president in 2020.

"And you're a corporation", said Cuomo.

Nixon added: 'I have never, nor could, donate to anyone's political campaign. "Why would the next four years be any different?"

Identifying key factors of running the state such as fire management and the subway system Cuomo argued that the "main risk to the state of New York" is President Trump, and that the governor "need [s] to know how" to stand on the front lines. Cuomo said he would cancel next year's fare hike because "the service is not what people deserve".

He touted the state's recent battles with the Trump administration over immigration policy, tax reform and other issues.

"Nobody has stood up to Donald Trump like I have", he said at the debate at Hofstra University on Long Island. "He is trying to change the rights and values of New Yorkers and the first line of defense is NY and the governor leads that fight and you need to know how to do it". Cuomo ultimately walked back the comment.

Nixon interrupted Cuomo's answers on several occasions, visibly irritating him.

"Excuse me, can you stop interrupting", Cuomo exclaimed. But Nixon's senior campaign strategist said she is offering the types of solutions for which Democratic voters are asking.

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.

The Nixon video highlights what the campaign says are similarities between Cuomo and Trump when it comes to their treatment of the press, handling of sexual harassment and coming from prominent families. "I live in the world of facts", Mr Cuomo said. I asked for no favors for friends and I am not a corporate donor to anyone'.