11:18 am Oct. 18, 2012
On Fred Dicker's radio show this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he'll happily oblige a request from Barack Obama's campaign to act as a surrogate for the president outside of New York State.
Cuomo, who has avoided out-of-state trips since becoming governor, had said previously that he was on call to help with the campaign, but had so far been minimally engaged with the re-election, before making an unannounced appearance to cheer the president's performance after Tuesday's debate.
Cuomo said it was "my pleasure" to appear in the spin room at Hofstra University, even as he later declared the spinning a "silly" exercise.
"Both sides come in and both sides claim their person won 100 percent," Cuomo said with a laugh. "It really is part of the theater," and "not even the pretense of authenticity."
Cuomo said he spoke to Obama after the debate, and "they asked me to do surrogate work in other states."
Cuomo's level of engagement has been closely watched in recent months, with the governor attempting to balance his desire to reflect a single-minded focus on his work in New York, with the potential value he carries as the country's most popular governor, and his aversion to any talk about 2016.
Cuomo said he was "very aware" of stirring speculation about his own presidential aspirations, which he said "hurt" his ability to govern and cast doubt on his motives.
"I don't want to step over a line that could fuel potential speculation that, well, Cuomo is looking to run in 2016," he said.
"I'm very aware of that," Cuomo said, "because it hurts me as governor. If you politicize me, you cast aspersions on my motivations and intent, you suggest I have my own political agenda for doing things, you're going to hurt my capacity and ability to serve as governor, and I just won't allow that to happen."
Cuomo went to to say, "I want to make clear. What I'm doing, I'm doing as a surrogate, a responsible surrogate for President Obama."
The governor said he was not sure where the campaign may send him, but he speculated it could be in any number of swing states.
Cuomo, who is famously sensitive about the way he's covered in the media, criticized reporters for focusing too much on his political agenda, rather than his legislative one.
"I understand the fascination with the press and I understand how they love to do the political speculation because otherwise they'd have to write a substantive policy story, which would be too fatiguing."
But Cuomo's conspicuous absences from the national scene have only fed the narrative. Politico's Dylan Beyers wrote about the National Governor's Association meeting in Washington, with the headline "Andrew Cuomo calls attention to himself by shunning media."
Cuomo said he's supportive "100 percent" of Obama, but later, Dicker pressed the governor as to whether he agreed "with Obamacare and its mandate on these religious institutions like hospitals, Catholic hospitals, to provide birth control and other birth control related care."
"I understand the issue and the tension and I have left it to the federal authorities," Cuomo said.
"You don't support it or oppose it? You haven't taken a position on whether you agree with the federal authorities?" Dicker asked.
"It's a federal policy. I've left it to them," the governor replied.