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Clinton aides treaded lightly on Cuomo's SAFE Act

Hillary Clinton’s staff prevented her from turning on the praise for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s SAFE Act when the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence honored her at a dinner last year and Cuomo was one of her invited guests.

The Clinton staff’s concerns are laid out in one of the hacked campaign emails available on Wikileaks.

Hours before Clinton was to speak at the gala, held on Nov. 19 in lower Manhattan, her staff fine-tuned her remarks via email.

Clinton confidante Huma Abedin was among the first to weigh in.

“I’m wondering if we should beef up what she says about Cuomo and what he’s doing in NY about guns," Abedin wrote to the other aides on the email chain, which included campaign chairman John Podesta.

Abedin mentioned that Cuomo had endorsed Clinton for president, and their camps had talked about doing a “message event,” but the “schedule was tough.” So Team Clinton invited the New York governor to the Brady Center dinner, Abedin pointed out. She suggested that aides tailor Clinton’s remarks to lavish more praise in Cuomo’s direction.

“So maybe slightly more love for what he’s doing as governor?” she asked.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo answers questions from reporters on Sept. 23, 2016 in Buffalo. Cuomo visited Buffalo the day after nine people were arrested in a public corruption probe involving Cuomo's biggest Upstate New York economic development projects. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was one of Hillary Clinton's guests when she accepted an award from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Tony Carrk, a research director at Hillary for America, raised the caution flag. Carrk has been identified as the person who gathered up the potentially damaging passages in Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street investors and circulated them to the campaign team.

“Would we be embracing the SAFE Act?” Carrk chimed in.

Clinton’s point person on gun policy, Corey Corciari, agreed with the need to tread lightly on the SAFE Act, which regulates the ownership of military style rifles in New York.

“Don’t see a need to fully embrace the SAFE Act. There are some controversial items in there,” Corciari said, without being specific. “We can highlight the pieces that fit within our agenda.”

Corciari said he was working with the speech writer to incorporate some praise for Cuomo that fit better with Clinton’s positions, one of which appeared to be her wish for expanded background checks. He suggested: “After the tragedy of Sandy Hook, when Congress failed to heed the call of the American people to take action, you led the fight in New York and expanded life-saving background checks.”

Carrk then had the last word.

“I agree. SAFE is not a safe bet,” he said.

When the New York Daily News covered the event that evening, it quoted Clinton criticizing Congress for its inaction on sensible gun-control measures.

“There are people too dangerous to be let on airplanes, but Congress won’t stop them from getting guns,” Clinton said, according to the newspaper. “We can do this from the grass roots, and I believe we can do it from the top down.”

Pictures were snapped of Clinton being given the inaugural “Mario M. Cuomo Leadership Award” by Andrew Cuomo and Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The center, one of the nation’s foremost organizations lobbying for gun control, is named for James Brady, the aide to former President Ronald Reagan who was shot  during the assassination attempt on the president, and Brady’s wife, Sarah.

In January, the Brady Center endorsed Clinton over her chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders.

Gun owners across New York, especially those in rural regions upstate, continue to bristle about provisions of the SAFE Act and the way it was swiftly and quietly passed in the days following the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

A Cuomo spokesman did not return calls for comment.

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