The governor criticised the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan during a bill signing event on Wednesday, saying: “We’re not going to Make America great again, it was never that great … We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged”. The comments, while part of a larger argument about gender equality, drew backlash from conservatives across the country.
Mr Trump lit a match under that backlash on Friday morning, writing on Twitter, “When a politician admits that ‘We’re not going to make America great again,’ there doesn’t seem to be much reason to ever vote for him”.
“This could be a career threatening statement by Andrew Cuomo, with many wanting him to resign,” the president continued, before simultaneously attacking the governor’s brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo. “He will get higher ratings than his brother Chris!”
“Wow! Big pushback on Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York for his really dumb statement about America’s lack of greatness,” Mr Trump wrote in a series of tweets. “I have already MADE America Great Again, just look at the markets, jobs, military- setting records, and we will do even better… Andrew ‘choked’ badly, mistake!”
Mr Cuomo told reporters in a conference call on Friday: “I want to be very clear. Of course America is great and of course America has always been great”.
Mr Cuomo, a longtime Democratic politician from Mr Trump’s hometown of New York City, has been one of the most prominent critics of the president since he assumed the White House.
The governor’s office had also clarified his comments in a statement, with Mr Cuomo’s press secretary Dani Lever saying “The Governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realised when every man, woman, and child has full equality.”
“When the President speaks about making America great again — going back in time — he ignores the pain so many endured and that we suffered from slavery, discrimination, segregation, sexism and marginalized women’s contributions,” she added. “The Governor believes that when everyone is fully included and everyone is contributing to their maximum potential, that is when America will achieve maximum greatness.”
Mr Cuomo expanded on that on Friday, taking Mr Trump to task over his tweets. “What he believes establishes American greatness is not greatness at all,” he said.
The governor then listed what he believes are anti-American policies by the president, such as the separation of families at the US-Mexico border.
The governor threatened to sue the White House over its “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration at the border in June, after dozens of children separated from their families at the border were transferred to immigration facilities in New York.
He has also opened the door to a criminal case against the Trump Foundation after the state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the president and several members of the first family, claiming they used the non-profit illegally for personal gain. All those named in the suit deny the allegations.
Mr Cuomo has been hailed for his defence of immigrants and civil rights under Mr Trump, but his new comments have sparked outcry in the middle of a gubernatorial campaign in New York. The governor’s Republican opponent Marc Molinaro released a statement on Wednesday slamming the controversial comments, claiming Mr Cuomo “owes the nation an apology”.
“He should be ashamed of himself,” Mr Molinaro added.