Conservatives living in the Cuomo Empire State may stop packing and cancel their moving van rentals. A statement from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared as an open letter to the New York Post Tuesday, disputing the daily tabloid's depiction of remarks His Excellency made in a radio interview with the headline: "Gov. Cuomo to Conservatives: Leave NY!"
The story appeared in the Post on Saturday, reporting that Cuomo had been a guest on "The Capitol Pressroom" radio program in Albany and told the interviewer that Republicans with "extreme conservative" views pose a greater problem for their party that the Democrats do.
"Who are they?" Cuomo asked rhetorically. "Right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay — if that's who they are, they have no place in the state of New York because that's not who New Yorkers are."
"Gov. Cuomo has a message for conservative Republicans — you don't belong in New York," the Post story began. But the statement issued by the governor's office pointed out that the governor in the interview was referring to the political prospects in New York for the kind of conservatives he described, not their right to live in the state.
"The Governor did not say that, nor does he believe that," said the "open letter" to the paper. "If you read the transcript (below), 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 same response, the Governor went on to say 'it is fine' to be anti-gun control, and anti-choice" — as he respects both positions," the letter stated.
It does appear that Cuomo was speaking about the ability of those he describes as "extreme conservatives" to "survive in this state" politically, while contrasting them with the "moderate Republicans" who helped him pass his legislative agenda in Albany. Those politicians who are "right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay" are on the opposite side of "70 percent of the voters" on those issues, he claimed.
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Photo of Gov. Andrew Cuomo: AP Images