New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
CHARLOTTE - Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the national stage at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday to bash Republicans in Washington and tout the successes in New York.
Despite no major speaking role at the Democratic National Convention, Cuomo is viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2016 and gave his address Thursday to a packed house added significance and national interest.
The scene illustrated the potential importance of Cuomo's speech. National media and New York leaders filled a tent to listen to the first-term governor's address.
The room was filled with red, white and blue balloons, and Cuomo spoke in front of a large sign that read, "New York State: Progressive Capital of the Nation."
In a first for Cuomo, who has shied away from entering the national political debate, the Democratic scion of former Gov. Mario Cuomo knocked the Republican vice president candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan and argued on behalf of President Barack Obama's re-election.
He led a furious rally at the end of the speech, yelling "Do you believe?" as the crowd roared on its feet.
"This is a gut-check election for this country," Cuomo said.
He said New York has reformed Medicaid, refigured its tax code for fairness between the wealthy and the middle class and legalized same-sex marriage - the largest state in the nation to do so.
Cuomo said of Republicans that "someone has to pay, and their answer on who has to pay is the middle class and the working families."
The speech was reminiscent of the oratory skills of his father, who gave a rousing keynote address at the Democratic convention in 1984. It led to Mario being considered a top prospect for the presidency, but he ultimately never ran in 1988 and 1992.
Some Democrats said after the speech that the address would likely propel the younger Cuomo into the national conversation in 2016, but said they expected Cuomo to keep his focus on New York - where Cuomo enjoys poll ratings that are the highest among governors in the country.