Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration penned an open letter to The New York Post on Sunday, two days after the governor’s comments on “extreme Republicans” were heavily criticized by conservatives.
The letter—posted to the governor’s website Sunday afternoon—says the Post “distorted Governor Cuomo’s words” by claiming Cuomo told conservative Republicans to “leave New York.”
Cuomo’s comments, made on public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom” on Friday, need more context, according to the governor’s office.
“When you listen to the complete interview, it is clear that the Governor was engaged in a discussion on political campaigns and responding to a question about fundraising for his own campaign,” the letter reads. “He was talking strictly about the two parties and political candidates, and making an observation that far right candidates cannot win statewide elections in the New York because their political philosophy is not a reflection of the state’s electorate.”
UPDATE: The letter was revised by the governor’s office later Sunday afternoon. The quote above was replaced with this: “If you read the transcript, it is clear that the Governor was making the observation that an extreme right candidate cannot win statewide because this is a politically moderate state (either moderate Republican or moderate Democratic).”
In the radio interview, Cuomo detailed what he sees as a “schism” in the Republican Party among an “extreme” faction and a “moderate” faction.
“Are they these extreme conservatives, who are right to life, pro assault weapon, anti-gay, is that who they are?” Cuomo said Friday. “Because if that is who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.” (Later in the state, Cuomo said it was “fine” to be opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, but that it’s “not the opinion of this state.”)
The letter essentially serves as a response to conservatives that have latched on to Cuomo’s comments, including the state Conservative Party and Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, Saratoga County, who issued separate statements knocking him.
“I guess the governor believes if you don’t believe the way he does, there’s not room in what he thinks is his state,” Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long said in a statement. “I believe this state is made up of men and women from Niagara Falls to Montauk Point who have all sorts of views, some who believe in the Second Amendment, some who believe in traditional marriage, some who believe government, especially in New York State, spends too much money and taxes are too high.”
The Cuomo administration’s full letter, along with its transcript of the radio exchange, can be found here.