Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo won't have a speaking role at the Democratic National Convention, his aides said Thursday. Instead, Cuomo will briefly touch down in Charlotte, N.C. for a short period on the same day that President Barack Obama addresses the nation, Thursday September 6. The decision to spend just hours in Charlotte is a marked step back from convention roles Cuomo has taken in the past. And it contrasts directly with former Governor Mario Cuomo's attention-grabbing speech in San Francisco in 1984.
Staying out of the convention limelight is consistent with Cuomo's avoidance of national media appearances, though if anything, that has just fueled speculation that Andrew Cuomo will run for president in 2016.
Unlike his counterpart in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, Cuomo has avoided national television shows, such as "Face the Nation." Instead, Cuomo has largely kept his media appearances confined to suburban and upstate towns, like Keene, New York, in the Adirondacks.
On Thursday, Cuomo toured Erie Canal damage in the Village of Albion, in Orleans County, near Buffalo.
In 1984, Mario Cuomo riveted the nation at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco (when his fellow Queens resident, Geraldine Ferraro, was the nominee for Vice President.)
Speaking directly to a meme of then President Ronald Reagan, Mario Cuomo said:
"Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a "Tale of Two Cities" than it is just a "Shining City on a Hill.""
To the thrill and delight of Democrats.
After Mario delivered that speech - in a style that his son Andrew mirrors - Mario Cuomo was on everyone's tongue as a presidential nominee. Cuomo pere was dubbed "Hamlet on the Hudson" as he mulled a bid for national office, consideration that didn't end until December of 1991, while a plane was idling on the tarmac in Albany, ready to take Mario Cuomo to file to run for President in New Hampshire. He never boarded the plane.
Barack Obama also brought down the house in 2004, when as a State Senator from Illinois he introduced himself "a skinny kid with a funny name," and then strummed Democratic heartstrings by thundering: "maybe some see us as divided in red states and blue states but I see us as the United States."
Democrats in the convention hall, and around the nation, began looking at Obama as presidential material that night.
Andrew Cuomo has used conventions to build political ties in the past. He spent most of his time in Los Angeles in 2000 - when Al Gore was nominated - working New York democrats, who had a tepid reaction to Cuomo's bid against then New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, the first black politician to seek statewide office in New York. At the time, Cuomo was secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing, Preservation and Development under President Bill Clinton. Within weeks of that convention, Cuomo dropped out of the Governor's race.
In 2008, as Attorney General of New York, Cuomo also worked the New York delegation at the convention. He hosted a swanky party at the DNC in Denver, where A-list politicos and donors elbowed each other to get close to Cuomo and slip down canapes.
But now, consistent with his strategy of focusing like a laser on New York - and of avoiding any flubs - Cuomo's team says he'll just fly by Charlotte.