Cuomo defends Obama from the ‘enemy’ that wants to shrink government

Andrew Cuomo. (Azi Paybarah)
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In what might be considered his second public gesture of support for Barack Obama since becoming governor—the first having been his attendance at a glitzy fund-raiser last month—Andrew Cuomo defended the president from ideologically driven small-government opposition.

In a speech before the West Indian American Labor Day Parade in Brooklyn, addressing "the discussion in Washington, Cuomo said, "Remember the role government plays in keeping the American dream, especially for immigrants, alive ... Remember, we talk about the ladder of opportunity, but it is government that puts the rungs in the ladder."

He talked about the various services that government is uniquely equipped to provide. Then he said, "The enemy of President Obama is really those voices who say, 'We don't need government. Government is the problem and not the solution.' Well not for us here in New York, and not for the people in this parade, and not for the people of this nation, and that's what's really going on in Washington, and we're going to make our voice heard loud and clear."

In general, Cuomo has positioned himself as an anti-partisan governor capable of reining in governmental excess in Albany, to the point that he became something of a favorite Democrat for a number of prominent conservatives. His rhetoric has been a far cry from his father's anabashed "all the government that we need" liberalism. In particular, he has seemed to keep his distance from Obama.

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This changed sightly at an August 11 fund-raiser in the home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein that was attended by Cuomo. At that event, Obama said the public expected him to change Washington immediately, "and Andrew is familiar with this, because everybody figures, we're going to fix politics in Albany ... And then it turned out that there are a lot of bad habits that have been built up over time and we're also a big, diverse country, and not everybody agrees with me."

Cuomo praised Obama at that same fund-raiser.

Cuomo's remarks today come as the New York Post reports that Obama's numbers have begun to worry some New York Democrats, who fear that the president's unpopularity could put Democratic congressional and State Senate seats in jeopardy.

The day before the August 11th fund-raiser, Cuomo attended a fund-raiser for Representative Charlie Rangel. At that event, I asked Cuomo, who had not traveled outside the state since taking office (except during brief moments when he passes through New Jersey on his way up to Albany), whether he'd travel outside New York to help re-elect Obama.

"I would help the president in any way that I can," Cuomo said.