NEW YORK POLITICS

Governor Cuomo made a big gaffe when he said America was “never that great.” Will it cost him the 2018 gubernatorial election? And, how will  that statement be perceived if he runs for the White House in 2020?

Aired on August 16, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WE'RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.

GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

AMERICA WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.

THOSE WORDS GOVERNOR CUOMO FINDS HIMSELF IN THE MIDST OF A CONTROVERSY.

CATCHING THE EYE OF CRITICS CLOSE TO HOME AND NATIONALLY, MAKING FUN OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN SLOGAN.

THE PRESIDENT WAS THE FIRST TO RESPOND, TWEETING CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS THE GOVERNOR OF THE HIGHEST TAX STATE IN THE U.S., ANDREW CUOMO HAVING A TOTAL MELTDOWN.

IT SPARKED A HEATED RESPONSE FROM MARK MOLINARO, THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR.

HE SAID HE OWED THE NATION AN APOLOGY.

HARRY, HOW ARE YOU?

FIRST QUESTION TO YOU, WERE YOU SURPRISED TO HEAR GOVERNOR CUOMO SAY THIS?

GOVERNOR CUOMO IS A TERRIBLE CAMPAIGNER, WHO DOES NOT CONNECT WITH HUMANS.

AND THAT IS THE SECOND, MAJOR UNFORCED RHETORICAL ERROR THIS YEAR.

AFTER COINING THE PHRASE SUMMER OF HELL TO REFER TO WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE MTA.

HE KNOWS HOW TO WIELD POWER.

HE KNOWS HOW TO TALK GRANDLY.

WHEN HE TRIES TO DO POLITICS IN AN ORDINARY WAY, SPEAK TO VOTERS, MAKE NEWS, HE'S REALLY BAD AT IT.

IF YOU LOOK AT HIS FATHER, WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH HIS POLITICS OR NOT, HE WAS A MARVELOUS CAMPAIGNER.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENT HERE?

SO DONALD TRUMP AND ANDREW CUOMO ARE THESE GUYS FROM QUEENS WHO ARE STILL IN SOME WAYS IN LIKE THE PSYCHIC SHADOW OF THEIR FATHERS.

AND ANDREW'S FATHER WAS THIS THOUGHTFUL, APPEALING, BRILLIANT SELF-MADE MAN WHO IF HE WANTED TO BE A DIFFERENT SORT OF CHARACTER, COULD DO THAT.

AND ANDREW IS SORT OF THIS IN REVERSE.

HE GREW UP AS A TEENAGER, YOU KNOW, HELPING TO RUN GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGNS, AND IN POWER, AND THINKS OF HIMSELF AS A GUY FROM QUEENS WHO LIKES CARS AND MOTORCYCLES.

I DON'T THINK THAT DEALING WITH VOTERS IS WHERE HE'S COMFORTABLE.

BY THE WAY, WITH CYNTHIA NIXON, EVERY TIME HE ENGAGES DIRECTLY, IT'S TERRIBLE.

SHE HAD A BRUTAL LINE ABOUT THIS WHICH IS THAT ANDREW SOUNDED LIKE SOMEBODY TRYING TO FEEBLY TO IMPERSONATE WHAT A REAL PROGRESSIVE SOUNDS LIKE.

BUT WHEN IT COMES TO BOXES HER OUT, HE'S A GUY WHO CONTROLS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

HE'S DONE A PERFECTLY COMPETENT JOB.

IT'S WHEN HE TRIES TO TALK TO HUMANS THAT HE FAILS.

IT'S INTERESTING, THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE HAS SAID THIS, IF YOU LOOK AT THE CONTEXT OF THE COMMENT, AFTER HE SAID THAT, HE'S TALKING ABOUT THE NEED FOR US TO FIND EQUALITY, TO DO AWAY WITH STEREO TYPING.

BUT WHAT GETS PULLED OUT OF THAT SPEECH IS THAT ONE LINE.

AND WE'VE HEARD DEMOCRATS SAY ABOUT, ESPECIALLY PRESIDENT TRUMP, WORDS COUNT.

WHAT YOU SAY COUNTS.

SO HOW DOES HE DEAL WITH THIS NOW?

HE IGNORES IT AND MOVES ON.

HE IS THREE WEEKS AHEAD OF A PRIMARY, DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY WITH A CHALLENGER TO HIS LEFT.

SO IN THAT UNIVERSE SAYING AMERICA HAS NOT BEEN GREAT, AMERICA HAS NOT LIVED UP TO ITS IDEALS, AND TICKING ALL THE WAYS IN WHICH THAT HAPPENS IS PERFECTLY REASONABLE.

HE DIDN'T MEAN TO STEP IN IT THIS WAY AND HIS OFFICE FRANTICALLY.

THERE'S A BUNCH OF WORD BABBLE.

'THE NEW YORK TIMES' NOTED THAT IN PREVIOUS RUNS HE SAID I'M GOING TO MAKE NEW YORK GREAT AGAIN.

SO HE STEPPED IN IT.

HE WANTS TO GET THROUGH THIS PRIMARY, WIN BY AT LEAST 25 POINTS AND MOVE ON.

SO THIS IS A HOT NATIONAL STORY BECAUSE IT'S TRUMP, CUOMO IN 2020, BUT HIS EYES RIGHT NOW ARE ON SEPTEMBER, NOT ON A NOVEMBER OF TWO YEARS HENCE.

AND GIVEN THE WAY OUR NEWS CYCLES WORK RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE SAYING, WELL, IF HE'S GOING TO BE A NATIONAL CANDIDATE, THIS IS GOING TO COME BACK TO HAUNT HIM.

DO YOU THINK IT WOULD PLAY OUT THAT WAY?

IT WOULD BE IN THE TACK EDGE IN 2020.

IT'S A SIMPLE QUEEN CAB LINE THAT YOU CAN USE TO BESTOW A LINE OF ATTACK.

SO, YES, I THINK -- I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH DAMAGE IT DOES, BUT IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S IN EVERYONE'S CLIP REELS NOW AS THEY'RE LOOKING AHEAD.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF WHAT'S NOW BEEN DESCRIBED AS TRIBAL POLITICS.

THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ARDENT SUPPORTERS OF GOVERNOR CUOMO ARE GOING TO STAY ARDENT SUPPORTERS.

PEOPLE WHO ARE FERVENT OPPONENTS, WILL STAY THERE.

HOW ABOUT THE ONES IN THE MIDDLE, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT CAN HAVE THE CAPACITY TO MOVE THE NEEDLE FOR INDEPENDENTS?

I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LEFT IN THE MIDDLE.

I'M ONE OF THEM.

I'M EXHAUSTED BY THIS EXACERBATIONS OF TENSIONS AND EXTREMITIES OF CONTESTS.

THE IDEA ABOUT WHETHER AMERICA IS OR WAS GREAT JUST MAKES ME SAD AND LIKE I'D LIKE TO RETIRE FROM OUR POLITICS UNTIL THEY BECOME MORE SENSIBLE.

SOUNDS LIKE YOU.

I'M INDEPENDENT, HAVE BEEN IN THE MIDDLE.

CAN MOVE EITHER WAY ON SOME ISSUES, BUT AFTER A WHILE YOU JUST GET BEATEN DOWN.

HOPEFULLY SOMETIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE WE CAN COME TO OUR SENSES AND BE MORE RATIONAL IN YOUR POLITICS.

HARRY, GOOD TO TALK TO YOU.

WE'LL TALK TO YOU AGAIN I'M SURE DOWN THE ROAD.

YOU BE WELL.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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