Gov. Andrew Cuomo today explained his comments made last month that conservatives have “no place in the state of New York” and said his position is “the exact opposite.”
Cuomo was criticized nationally by conservatives after his comments on a radio show Jan. 17. He said “right to life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay” conservatives have “no place in the state of New York.”
Cuomo’s aides said during the backlash that the comments were taken out of context, saying he was talking about how conservative candidates can’t win statewide in the heavily Democratic state.
The Democratic governor sought to reiterate that point when asked by reporters today at the Capitol.
“I was not saying anyone should leave the state, right? And anyone who heard the comments knows that’s not what I was saying,” Cuomo explained. “To the extent people want to have a political dialogue, that’s what it is.”
He continued, “But I wasn’t saying anyone should leave the state. My position is the exact opposite, right? We have all sorts of opinions in this state. We have people all along the spectrum, and it’s one of the things that makes New York special.”
Cuomo drew calls for a apology from Republican and conservative leaders in New York. National conservative pundits knocked Cuomo, including Sean Hannity, who said on his syndicated radio show that he “can’t wait to get out” of New York.
Cuomo has talked about how moderate Republicans can succeed in New York, and he has touted his closed working relationship with Senate Republicans, who control the chamber.
“We can agree to disagree, and everyone has a right to an opinion,” he added.
Cuomo is up for re-election this year, and the comments quickly became a campaign issue.
Updated: David Laska, a spokesman for the state GOP, criticized Cuomo’s explanation today.