During a speech in New York City on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said America was “never that great” while making a point on women’s equality. (Governor’s Office)
Jon Campbell, email@example.com
ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave an impassioned speech Wednesday by knocking President Donald Trump over his comments and policies toward women.
Then Cuomo was stung by his own comments as he derided Trump when he said, “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”
The Democratic governor drew criticism from his Republican foes for the line as he discussed the need for stronger women’s rights during the speech in Manhattan, where he signed a bill to make sex trafficking in New York a felony.
Trump quoted Cuomo in all caps, and said the Democrat is “having a total meltdown!”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro said Cuomo owed the nation an apology.
“America, with its imperfections, has always been great,” Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, said in a statement.
“Our people, our principles, and our promises have been a beacon light to the world for 242 years and counting.”
The state GOP called the comment “offensive” and called “on every Democratic candidate and elected official to condemn his remarks immediately.”
For Cuomo, the comment was part of his larger contention that Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is aimed at moving the nation backward, not forward, when it comes to equal rights for all.
“The simple point is all this comes down to this: We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great,” Cuomo said.
“We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged. We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women — 51 percent of our population — is gone.”
Cuomo, who is seeking a third term and is a prospective 2020 presidential candidate, has railed against the Trump administration on a host of issues, including immigration, gun control, tax reform and the rebuilding of Puerto Rico — which Cuomo has visited five times since Hurricane Maria last year.
“Go back to when, Mr. President?” Cuomo said Wednesday.
Cuomo said, “New York is going to be the alternative state to Trump’s America.”
He ended the speech by saying, “We have not yet fully liberated the women in this country, and we will. And New York will lead the way. And watch New York rise.”
In a subsequent statement, Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said Cuomo was expressing his disagreement with Trump’s positions.
“The governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality,” Lever said. “America has not yet reached its maximum potential.”
She added that when the president talks about making America great again, “he ignores the pain so many endured and that we suffered from slavery, discrimination, segregation, sexism and marginalized women’s contributions.”
Cuomo’s comments came after Trump visited upstate New York on Monday and ripped Cuomo, mocking the governor for potentially wanting to run against him in 2020.
Trump alleged that Cuomo once called him and said, ‘I’ll never run for president against you,'”
Then Trump said of the fellow Queens native: “But maybe he wants to. Oh, please do it. He did say that. Maybe he means it.”
Trump added: “One thing we know and they do say: Anybody who runs against Trump suffers.”
Cuomo said Tuesday that he never talked politics with the Republican president.
“I talk to the president, but I talk to him about policy issues that are affecting this state,” Cuomo said.
“And I do disagree with the president. If I were president of the United States, I would not be trying to roll back a woman’s right to choose. I would not be ripping babies out of the arms of their mothers.”
Joseph Spector is chief of USA TODAY Network’s Albany Bureau.
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