Recasting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s race as a bellwether of the left’s ongoing struggle with conservatives nationwide, former President Bill Clinton told a crowd of union members tonight that Mr. Cuomo would be a bulwark against the “last gasp of trickle-down economics.”
“He has made this a more progressive, more fair, more forward looking state–and it’s turned out to be good for the economy,” Mr. Clinton said at the headquarters of 1199 SEIU, the powerful healthcare workers union, in Manhattan. “This team of Andrew and Kathy [Hochul] will do more.”
He said that Mr. Cuomo, facing a conservative, under-funded rival in Republican Rob Astorino, was all that stood between progressives and a possible Reagan revolution-like redux: “This election is about the last gasp of trickle-down economics,” he charged.
“The reasons all of these elections all over America are being so hotly contested is that our friends in the other party think this is the last time to cash in on the misery of the American people,” Mr. Clinton said. “They want to go back to social policies where you’re on your own.”
Mr. Clinton headlined the election rally for Mr. Cuomo, the star attraction in a night that also drew a wide array of elected officials like Congressman Charles Rangel, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mr. Cuomo’s running mate, former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul. A week earlier, Mr. Clinton’s wife and possible presidential contender Hillary Clinton appeared at a similar rally for Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who has angered some voters on the left.
Tonight, the left’s dissatisfaction with a governor who brags about slashing taxes and trimming government gave way to a series of glowing speeches about Mr. Cuomo as Election Day, only days away, draws near. Mr. Clinton, now a surrogate for Democrats across America as President Obama’s poll numbers dip, spoke a great deal about national concerns–he again took a dig at Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, for wanting to repeal Obamacare–but took time to lavish praise on Mr. Cuomo, who once served as his young Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary.
Like with Ms. Clinton’s appearance, Mr. Clinton’s endorsement of Mr. Cuomo was fraught with political intrigue. Two decades ago, Mr. Clinton feuded with Mr. Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and rocketed to the presidency as the elder Cuomo, a one-time front-runner, stayed on the sidelines.
Mario Cuomo was not too far from anyone’s minds: Two speakers, Mr. Stringer and Congressman Jerrold Nadler, accidentally referred to Mr. Cuomo as “Mario.”
“Andrew Cuomo was a great HUD secretary when I was president. He did a great job, he helped us to continue to reform the agency,” Mr. Clinton continued. “It was recognized as one of the top performing entities of government in any level in the United States. He did more to provide housing for the poor, he did more to use HUD as an economic development engine which I think we should keep working to do.”
Mr. Cuomo, who took the stage before Mr. Clinton, spoke in similarly sweeping terms about conservatives threatening the inclusive, socially liberal state he has been the steward of since 2011. He recycled several attacks on Mr. Astorino, the Westchester County executive: the governor said Mr. Astorino is the type of “ultra-conservative” “Washington” Republican that wants to repeal the state’s strict gun control laws, over-turn abortion protections and somehow undo the law allowing same-sex marriage in the state.
Like in his lone televised debate against Mr. Astorino, Mr. Cuomo also blasted the Republican for fighting with the federal government about whether he’s in compliance with a fair-housing settlement.
“They think they’re gonna repeal our gun law that is saving lives and we say no way! They think they’re gonna allow guns in schools to teach young people how to use guns and we say no way!” Mr. Cuomo thundered. “We have a county executive running who is the only county executive in the United States who is being sued by the federal government for housing discrimination because his county won’t allow low-income and minorities to live in his county.”
Mr. Cuomo said Mr. Astorino’s Republican allies are “against everything we believe in. It is that simple.”
“And it’s not just a summation of the issues: It’s who they are and what they believe and what they see as their vision and philosophy for this nation,” he said. “And they see a different America, and they see a different New York than we see.”