Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?
Friday, March 02, 2012
Both rock stars in their own right, both trying to right their states' ships, and both building serious momentum for a potential presidential run. Every Friday, we'll look at who's week will look better on a résumé come 2016.
Check out last week's scores here.
Chris Christie hammered the NYPD this week following revelations that the department had traveled across state lines to conduct covert surveillance operations on Muslims in New Jersey. Speaking on Thursday, Christie called it "an abandonment of the core lesson of 9/11."
"I understand we need people doing covert surveillance to protect the people of our state and our region," Christie said during an "Ask the Governor" program on Wednesday. "No problems with that. My concern is, why can't you communicate with the people here in New Jersey, with law enforcement here in New Jersey?"
Decrying the NYPD's "arrogance," Christie struck a balance between being critical of overreach from government and law enforcement, and stressing that his state could have been a partner in the fight against terrorism—if only they'd been asked.
That qualification would make it tough for opponents to call Christie soft on terror during a Republican primary: he's not against covert surveillance and robust national security measures, but he is against having outside authorities calling the shots in his state, which is a conservative credential in its own right.
- Verdict: +1
Christie was supposed to appear at a Mitt Romney campaign event in Ohio on Friday night before severe weather warnings stymied the Governor's travel arrangements.
Though it cuts into his camera time, this means Christie's got some space on his dance card this weekend.
- Verdict: 0
→ Christie's Week: +1
Pitching himself by not pitching himself
Politico ran a story this week with the headline "Andrew Cuomo calls attention to himself by shunning media."
Political operatives and media insiders in New York say Cuomo’s low profile is part of a tightly controlled media operation geared toward ensuring a strong showing in 2016. By avoiding the national spotlight now, they say, Cuomo can craft his own narrative as an able governor — outgrowing his reputation as a brash political tactician — and, perhaps most important, avoid making the kinds of gaffes that have plagued him in the past.
The article notes that, during his tenure as governor, Cuomo has only left New York twice; hasn't done any interviews with national television networks, despite numerous invitations to appear on the Sunday morning talks hows; and has only given one interview to the national print media.
The bottom line? "[A]s the governor of the media capital of the world, a former Cabinet secretary and the son of storied Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, Cuomo can afford to stiff-arm the press because he doesn’t have to worry about building name recognition."
- Verdict: +1
Not Gumby, dammit
On Monday, while stressing his flexibility in the debate about pension reform, Governor Cuomo compared himself to Gumby. Yes that Gumby.
While he's since walked back from that analogy a little bit, Cuomo effectively made sure he'd be drawn as a giant Gumby in every political cartoon of the 2016 election, should he enter. Not flattering. See for yourself.
- Verdict: -1
→ Cuomo's Week: 0