It has barely been a month since Cynthia Nixon officially announced her primary challenge against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but the award-winning actor has already proven adept at making news.
In her highest-profile interview since she sat down with Wendy Williams a couple of weeks ago, Nixon appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday night. And after some light banter about that time Nixon beat Colbert in the spoken word Grammy category, they got down to business.
Asked why her campaign is called “Cynthia for New York” instead of “Nixon for New York,” she told Colbert, “My mother used to say, she grew up during World War II with a father named Adolf and she lived through the 1970s with a husband named Nixon. So I am aware of the dubious nature of my last name. But I have to say if given a choice, I would rather be the good Nixon than the bad Cuomo.”
“Holy cow! Put this some ointment on that burn,” Colbert replied, before teeing his guest up once again. “Why are you trying to take away the man’s job? His dad had the job. Don’t do this to him. Why are you running?”
Ready with her talking points, Nixon said, “I'm running because I’m a lifelong New Yorker, and I love this state and I just know we could do so much better. Because we’re a blue state. We’re a proudly Democratic state. But we’ve got a governor in there who governs like a Republican.”
She went on to accuse her opponent of allowing Republicans to gerrymander their districts in order to “suppress” Democratic voters “and particularly Democratic voters of color.” Nixon said Cuomo’s “doing that because he’s pleasing his big-money donors,” whereas she is not taking any corporate money for her campaign.
Colbert seemed to baffle Nixon by asking if she is running as a “gadfly” and would actually be “disappointed” if she were to win. “Do you really want to be governor of New York?” he asked.
“I am 100% running to be governor of New York,” Nixon replied to huge cheers from the audience.
The host continued to “play governor’s advocate,” as he put it, asking, “Do we need another celebrity in office? Because we’ve got one in the White House, and that’s not working out very well.”
Nixon agreed with the premise but laid out what makes her so different from Trump. “I think that first and foremost, Donald Trump is a real estate developer and he has inherited his money and his company from his father. That could not be more different from me,” she said. “I grew up here in a one-bedroom, five-flight walk-up with a single mom. I went to public school. I started acting when I was 12 in order to pay for my college because my family couldn’t afford to.”
“I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with celebrity in politics,” she continued. “It gives you a platform, but it’s what you choose to do with that platform. Do you choose to give yourself and other one-percenters a massive tax break that they don’t need, or do you choose to advocate for important things that need your voice, like LGBTQ equality or women’s health or women’s rights—including a woman’s right to choose—or better public schools, which I have been advocating for and fighting for, for the better part of 20 years? I think that’s the kind of résumé a progressive leader of New York state should have right now.”
Since another of Nixon’s major policy goals is the legalization of recreational marijuana, she decided to make an admission about her own history with drugs. “I was an actor in the ’80s. It was a crazy time,” she told Colbert. “And I think it’s important to let people know... that I’ve only smoked pot twice in my life. It’s so embarrassing.”
The biggest sign that Nixon is starting to be taken more seriously as a candidate? Colbert didn’t bring up Sex and the City once.