Donald Trump wants the state GOP united behind him if he runs for governor and has made no final decision, a spokesman said today.
Trump’s aide, Michael Cohen, met privately yesterday with Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino as Astorino also weighs a bid for governor against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In an email later in the day, Cohen wrote, “Rob indicated that he is running for governor and would not step aside and let Mr. Trump be the nominee. As you are aware, Mr. Trump would only run against Cuomo if the party could unite around one candidate and one who could win,” according to a column today by Bob Lonsberry, a talk-show host in Rochester.
An Astorino spokesman confirmed the meeting, but said the talk was supposed to be private. Astorino said Monday he is “leaning towards” a run.
“The county executive had a private breakfast with Mr. Cohen,” said Astorino spokesman Bill O’Reilly. “We’ll respectfully keep it private. But I can say that we remain in an exploratory phase. No final decision has been made.”
Astorino appears to have the backing of state GOP chairman Ed Cox, but Trump wants Astorino or anyone else out of the picture if he runs against Cuomo.
Cohen said in a statement that, “There is nothing in the e-mail stating Mr. Trump will not run. Anything to the contrary takes my e-mail completely out of context.”
Cohen said the email to four individuals was “nothing more than a call for action” to people involved with the draft Trump effort.
“The goal was to advise them of the meeting and to have them continue their calls to top GOP leaders, continue to make calls and increase support for Mr. Trump,” Cohen said. “Only Mr. Trump can make a decision whether he will or will not run for governor. Mr. Trump has not made a decision yet.”
Cohen added, “Trump wants the Republican party to unite behind one candidate and one candidate who can win. Trump is the only individual who could defeat Cuomo, and possibly easily.”