In the face of fierce criticism, Gov. Cuomo reversed himself Friday and said he regretted saying America was “never that great.”
“The expression I used the other day was inartful, so I want to be very clear: Of course America is great and of course America has always been great,” Cuomo told reporters on a conference call.
“No one questions that.”
He added: “My family is evidence of American greatness,” pointing out how one generation after his grandfather Andrea immigrated from Italy, son Mario would become governor of New York.
The governor then went on to attack President Trump, who has repeatedly blasted Cuomo since the flub.
“His philosophy is not just repugnant to New York, his philosophy is anti-American,” Cuomo said. “Ripping a child from the arms of a parent is anti-American. Abandoning Puerto Rican citizens is not American values.”
Aside from clarifying his gaffe that led to a firestorm of criticism from Republicans and even fellow Democrats, Cuomo was responding to mocking morning tweets from Trump.
“Wow. Big pushback on Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York for his really dumb statement about America’s lack of greatness. I have already MADE America Great Again, just look at the markets, jobs, military — setting records, and we will do even better. Andrew choked badly, mistake,” the president wrote.
Trump, who on Monday goaded Cuomo to run against him, continued his broadside in a subsequent tweet.
“When a politician admits that `We’re not going to make America great again, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to ever vote for him. This could be a career threatening statement by Andrew Cuomo, with many wanting him to resign — he will get higher ratings than his brother Chris!,” he added, referring to CNN host Chris Cuomo, a frequent critic of the president.
Cuomo, when asked about Friday about challenging Trump in 2020, said, “I am running for governor of New York. That is my focus.”
But the governor took issue with Trump’s charge that Cuomo is responsible for New York’s high taxes.
“I lowered taxes. He knows that because he’s a New Yorker,” Cuomo said.
He said that Trump and the GOP-led Congress’ decision to curb state and local tax deductions on federal returns has spurred tax hikes on some wealthy New Yorkers and is already depressing home values.
He didn’t mention that the new federal law lowers taxes for others.
Cuomo is facing an aggressive Democratic primary challenge from the left from actress-activist Cynthia Nixon, who accused him of “folding like a cheap suit” after his reversal.
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