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As Trump and Republicans rage, Cuomo admits comment was ‘inarftul’

ALBANY — After two days of Republican attacks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted he was “inartful” when he said Wednesday that America was “never that great.”

But the Democratic New York governor, who is seeking a third term and positioning himself for a possible 2020 presidential bid, unleashed a new salvo of attacks against President Donald Trump, continuing a rhetorical spat that began on Monday when Trump attacked Cuomo during a trip to Utica.

“The expression I used the other day was inartful, so I want to be very clear: Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that,” Cuomo told reporters on a conference call. “When Trump started talking about the slogan called ‘Make America Great Again,’ that what he believes establishes American greatness is not greatness at all.”

The governor explained that on Wednesday, he was emphasizing that the nation’s history on women’s rights and civil rights for minorities and LGBT people leave much to be desired, and much progress to be made.

Still, Republicans including Trump seized on Cuomo’s comments, which, as Trump flies to the Hamptons for a fundraiser, are dominating New York political conversation for the third straight day.

Trump tweeted about Cuomo for the first time this week since he took office. On Friday morning, he called Cuomo’s gaffe a “career threatening statement.”

“I have already MADE America Great Again, just look at the markets, jobs, military- setting records, and we will do even better,” Trump tweeted. “Andrew ‘choked’ badly, mistake!”

Trump, a native New Yorker, also attacked the state’s persistently high taxes, which he said are “pushing people and businesses out” of the state. While the Tax Foundation ranks New York’s business tax climate as the second worst in the nation, Cuomo told reporters he has lowered income, business and the estate taxes since taking office.

Analysts said this week that the governor’s gaffe and the fight with Trump it enflamed could damage Cuomo’s presidential prospects. But battling with Trump is good politics for Cuomo in the short-term, where he faces Cynthia Nixon in a Democratic primary on Sept. 13. Analysts said they don’t believe Cuomo’s statement would hurt him among voters of color, who comprise about a quarter of the Democratic primary electorate.

Cuomo said Trump was “vindictive and petty and small” and trying to “distract from Omarosa and Manafort and Russia.”

The governor added: “I have no plans to run for president.”


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