One line from a speech by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earned some bipartisan backlash, including from President Donald Trump, even after Cuomo added context to his stark assertion that America “was never that great.”
The Democratic governor made the statement during an address Wednesday in Manhattan in which he touted his support for women’s rights, according to the White Plains, New York-based Journal News.
“We’re not going to make America great again,” Cuomo said, riffing off of Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan. “It was never that great.”
His comment evoked some gasps from those in the audience and prompted a number of angry reactions, especially from Republicans in the state.
Cuomo immediately expounded on the line, though, offering examples to support his belief that the country is on a trajectory toward greatness rather than an effort to recapture past glory.
“We have not reached greatness,” he said. “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.”
He went on to call out the Trump administration and its policies more directly, pledging that New York will become “the alternative state to Trump’s America.”
Sticking to the subject of the address, Cuomo said that advancement of women’s equality is one way he wants the state to push back against the White House.
“We have not yet fully liberated the women in this country, and we will,” he said. “And New York will lead the way. And watch New York rise.”
One of the most notable reactions to Cuomo’s speech came from Trump himself, who quoted the most controversial portion in all caps in a tweet Wednesday night.
“WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.” Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
“WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT,” the president wrote. “Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!”
Cuomo responded a short time later.
.@RealDonaldTrump: What you say would be 'great again' would not be great at all…We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK.
Like NY's motto says: Excelsior — Ever Upward (not backward) https://t.co/nrcUrsYJCO
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 16, 2018
“What you say would be ‘great again’ would not be great at all…We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK,” the governor wrote as a reply to Trump’s tweet.
Offering further cleanup was Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for the governor who attempted to restate Cuomo’s point in her own statement.
“The governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality,” she said. “America has not yet reached its maximum potential.”
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