Governor Andrew Cuomo stirred some controversy Wednesday when he told an audience at a bill signing ceremony in Manhattan that America “was never that great.”
“We’re not going to make America great again, it was never that great,” said Cuomo, as some in the audience gasped in surprise.
It gained him sharp criticism from the Republican candidate for governor, Marc Molinaro, who said it was “shocking” and that Cuomo “owes the nation an apology.”
New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan says Governor Cuomo “should be ashamed of himself” for saying “America was never that great.”
“He should clarify it himself. He should apologize and say America is the greatest country in the world. Period. I couldn’t believe it came from him. It’s kind of surprising but, you know, it’s not how I think, it’s not how a lot of people think, and I’m going to guess that he probably wants to take some of that back.”
New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who is also a candidate in the Democratic primary for attorney general, says Cuomo expressed himself inelegantly.
“It was a pretty stupid thing to say,” said Maloney. “But I think we know what he meant.”
And Maloney, who is married to a same sex partner, says he gives Cuomo credit for taking steps to further civil rights.
“I have watched this governor contribute to making America greater by passing marriage equality in New York,” said Maloney. “And I give him a lot of credit for that.”
Maloney says people should give the governor some slack.
Later in the day, Cuomo’s press secretary, Dani Lever, issued a statement saying the governor does believe that America “is great” and was merely making the point that the nation’s greatness has not yet been fully realized because inequalities exist.
Cuomo’s comments directly after his statement appear to bear that out.
“We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged,” Cuomo said.
Lever says that it’s Trump who is implying, through his campaign slogan, that America is not great right now.
Since then, Cuomo and President Trump have engaged in a war of words on Twitter.