The revelation that Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul are all in for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign didn’t exactly stop the presses a few days ago here at The Buffalo News.
But the views of a pair of political pros prove enlightening as New York State gears up for the most intense presidential primary season in anyone’s memory. As most of the remaining candidates descend upon our town over the next 10 days, and the nation’s media capital parlays “the big story,” it will prove all-consuming.
Even for the governor and lieutenant governor.
“This is not Wisconsin. Our demographics fit where she does well,” Cuomo said of Hillary Clinton a few days ago during a visit to The News. “She will do well here because we know her. New York is different; we know her as a senator for eight years or so. You’ve seen her up close; you have more of a connection, more of a feeling. You’re less subject to the myths of the political media in the distance. And I think she’ll do very well.”
Cuomo said Clinton will emphasize her ability to pull the various levers of government and make it work. “And that’s what we need more than anything,” he said.
One man’s opinion, for sure. But it’s no accident that the former New York senator scheduled more than one appearance in Buffalo on Friday. Yes, she scheduled the obligatory rally speech at the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum; the one where she fires up the troops while hammering rivals like Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump. That’s the scene that captures most of the national media attention.
But Clinton also made sure she left room for the umpteenth tour of her life of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Every little detail on the presidential campaign trail is planned and scripted, and the cameras caught Clinton amid all the construction and visible progress of the Medical Campus, for which she helped secure millions of dollars in federal funding.
The guess here is that the governor’s political operatives may have even lent Clinton a page from their own playbook. Ditto for Mayor Byron Brown, another strong Clinton ally.
“Make sure they see you at the Medical Campus,” the pros likely advised. “Get your photo taken among the cranes and construction equipment and all the tangible signs of progress. And then take credit for it.”
That’s what Cuomo did in 2012; Brown in 2013. And it worked. Cuomo understands that visual and what it means.
“We need someone who makes things happen and gets things done,” he said. “That’s what she’s good at.”
Hochul, meanwhile, adds that Clinton will fare better in New York’s “closed primary” than in others allowing non-Democrats to vote. The lieutenant governor was slated for weekend events in Syracuse and Broome County following Clinton’s Friday appearance here. Close to Clinton since her days as a Hamburg councilwoman, Hochul will perform the surrogate role at all kinds of events through April 19.
“I’m happy to do that,” she said, adding that her own stump speech includes highlighting the former senator’s role in saving the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and funding the Medical Campus.
Cuomo, of course, watches all of New York politics – Democrat or Republican – closer than anyone. He knows Trump; has dealt with him on a regular basis in New York City. It’s a sure bet he’s become an even keener student ever since Trump pondered running against him in 2014.
“I don’t think it’s the Wisconsin loss as much as the words that are coming out of his mouth,” Cuomo said of questions about Trump’s eventual nomination. “I think it hurts.”
Still, he doubts the Manhattan developer will lose New York to Sen. Ted Cruz, whose denunciation of “New York values” and Texas base prove foreign to lots of New York voters.
“I don’t think Cruz has a natural base here in New York,” he said. “We’re not a heavily Christian, evangelical state. I don’t know the politics that well, but my guess is [Trump] has the upper hand in New York as well.”