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Fealty to Trump Arises as Litmus Test in G.O.P. Debate for N.Y. Governor

“I consider him a good friend,” said Mr. Giuliani, who worked for four years in the Trump White House, adding that he wanted to bring the same “kind of change” to New York that Mr. Trump had brought to America.

Mr. Zeldin, once considered a moderate, has been a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump, voting in the House to overturn the results of the 2020 election. That effort was led — interestingly enough — by the older Mr. Giuliani. But Mr. Zeldin was slightly more circumspect in his feelings about Mr. Trump’s political prospects, saying, “If President Trump wants to run, he should run,” and adding that he believed the former president would be the next Republican nominee.

Mr. Zeldin, a four-term congressman from Long Island, tried to reel off other issues he felt deserved federal attention, including illegal immigration, foreign policy and the supply chain. “That’s where Congress should be spending their time right now,” he said.

Mr. Astorino, the former Westchester County executive who was the party’s unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2014, went the furthest in acknowledging the Capitol riots, calling Jan. 6 “a horrible day in our nation’s history,” and saying that Mr. Trump “bears some responsibility” for the mob attack. But he called the hearings “political theater.”

Mr. Astorino generally avoided the verbal sparring going on between Mr. Zeldin and Mr. Wilson in the CBS studio, trying to convey a calmer presence.

“This state is a mess,” he said, adding, “I ran in ’14 and everything has just gotten worse.”

Social issues percolated throughout the evening, with the possible Supreme Court decision on the fate of Roe v. Wade expected this month. Perhaps cognizant of New York’s strong liberal bent — Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two-to-one in enrollment — none of the four on Monday called directly for Roe to be overturned, though several said there should be restrictions on who can perform abortions and when women can seek them.

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