CLEVELAND—Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino—Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 Republican rival—suggested today that Donald Trump had admitted to him that he was glad he did not pursue his much-teased, much-mocked bid to become governor of New York.
Astorino made the remark to the Observer at the New York GOP breakfast this morning, ahead of the third night of the Republican convention. Two years ago, a coalition of state legislators sought to recruit Trump to challenge Cuomo. The Queens-born developer publicly flirted with the idea, to the amusement of many of the state’s political insiders, but reportedly wanted Astorino to drop out of contention in order to clear the GOP field.
Today, the Westchester pol hinted the brash Manhattanite would have lost to him in a primary match-up.
“You know, Donald and I had a, had a conversation about a month ago, at the night of the California primary. And we were joking about that,” Astorino said today. “And I won’t tell you what he said, because he’s happy he didn’t run, because now he can be president of the United States.”
According to Buffalo developer Carl Paladino—Trump’s New York State chairman and Cuomo’s 2010 opponent—the Queens-born businessman offered Astorino the lieutenant governorship as a consolation prize. Astorino refused, and became the undisputed Republican nominee, only to fall to Cuomo in November.
Astorino repeatedly emphasized his differences with Trump while speaking to reporters today—”I really try to build bridges, not walls”—but asserted that the two align on most issues. He urged the candidate to recant some of his more racially inflammatory remarks about Mexicans and Muslims in his acceptance speech tomorrow night.
“Do I agree with everything he says no. But I didn’t agree with my parents on everything either,” Astorino said. “Part of the thing I’d like to hear him say is, maybe he made some mistakes along the way, maybe he used his words carelessly, but don’t question what’s in his heart. Don’t question the direction we need to go in this country.”
Astorino campaigned under the slogan “Let’s Make New York Great Again,” following former President Ronald Reagan 1980 “Let’s Make America Great Again” campaign line. Trump has employed a truncated version of the same motto in his run at the White House.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, publisher of Observer Media.