Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday that she and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo believe this country is great and that the governor appropriately clarified his remark from a day earlier that America "was never that great."
Cuomo was finishing up a 20-minute speech Wednesday at a re-election event — touted as a bill-signing ceremony for new penalties for sex trafficking in New York — when he mocked President Donald Trump's well-known "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.
"We are not going to make America great. America, it was never that great," Cuomo said. "We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged."
Republicans pounced on the remark, with GOP gubernatorial candidate Marcus Molinaro saying Cuomo owed Americans an apology.
Cuomo's press secretary, Dani Lever, later Wednesday issued a statement. "The governor believes America is great," Lever wrote, adding that "maximum greatness" was still to be achieved.
"The governor was correct in his statement. We know America is great, but we need to make it greater," Hochul said Thursday. "There are a lot of people who have been left on the sidelines under Donald Trump. And we don't want to go backward with respect to the rights of women, the rights of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, minorities."