New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has found himself in hot water over remarks he made on Wednesday, saying, “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”
Cuomo riffed on President Donald Trump’s slogan at a New York City bill-signing event. The governor’s comments were made in the context about the unfairness of persistent gender discrimination that women face.
“We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great,” Cuomo said. “We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged. We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping of women — 51 percent of our population — is gone, and every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution.”
President Trump seized on the first part of Cuomo’s speech in a late-night tweet on Wednesday, saying it was evidence of Cuomo having a “total meltdown!” Trump, himself a famous New Yorker, also made reference to the state’s taxes.
“WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.” Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
Cuomo responded with his own tweet saying that Trump’s vision for making America “great” again was “backward.”
“What you say would be ‘great again’ would not be great at all. ... We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK,” Cuomo tweeted.
.@RealDonaldTrump: What you say would be 'great again' would not be great at all...We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 16, 2018
Like NY's motto says: Excelsior -- Ever Upward (not backward) https://t.co/nrcUrsYJCO
While the longtime Democratic governor of New York was trading barbs with Republicans on Wednesday, he’s facing an equally contentious challenge from the left wing of his own party. The Democratic primary race between Cuomo and his main challenger, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, is also getting heated.
Nixon has tried to make it clear she’s not just a celebrity candidate, visiting public housing residents in Brooklyn and meeting with residents upstate in Hoosick Falls about contaminated water. She’s gained significant ground in recent polls, though Cuomo still has a commanding lead.
And Nixon, who’s mounting a progressive challenge against Cuomo, seems to have successfully spooked the governor, already succeeding in pushing him left. Cuomo announced a plan to restore voting rights to 35,000 parolees and helped broker a truce in a years-long standoff between rogue and mainline Democrats in the state Senate.
She’s done this by successfully targeting Cuomo’s vulnerabilities, from the city’s subway crisis to the corruption scandals that have continued to plague Albany, the state’s capital. She’s called out New York’s gross income inequality, advocated for legalizing marijuana, and championed public schools, a longtime pet issue. She hasn’t wasted an opportunity to throw New York’s problems at the governor’s feet, but she’s also slowly beginning to carve out a progressive platform of her own.
Nixon — buoyed by the success of progressive star and fellow New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — has branded herself a democratic socialist and is trying to pull Cuomo to the left while painting him as a corrupt, machine politician.
“The Democratic establishment doesn’t like primaries,” Nixon said during a fiery speech in front of progressive activists at Netroots Nation recently. “They think challenging incumbents hurts the party. I disagree. I think that centrist corporate Democrats hurt the party.”
With a little less than a month to go until the New York state primaries on September 13, Cuomo still has a formidable lead in the polls (a 36-point lead, according to a July poll from Quinnipiac University). But he also hasn’t had such a well-known challenger in years.
Even as Cuomo spars with the president on Twitter, he may be more worried about what’s happening in his own party.