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January 22, 2014

In Our Opinion: Cuomo wrong on whose views matter

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The Daily Star

---- — The political quote goes back at least to Ronald Reagan.

“If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Right now, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s people are attempting to explain away remarks he made last week in a radio interview when he said: “extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York.”

The governor’s office says his words have been “distorted,” and they no doubt have, but still, saying any political group doesn’t deserve to have its views heard is a really stupid thing for any governor to say.

Here’s the relevant portion of the radio interview text:

“… Republican-party candidates are running against the SAFE Act. It was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate. Their problem is not me and Democrats, their problem is themselves.

“Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives, who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay, is that who they are? Because if that is who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.”

In an open letter to the New York Post, Cuomo’s office said he was referring to “extreme” candidates for office rather than regular folks who hold what he might regard as extreme views.

Cuomo said this after his “no place in the state of New York” remark:

“Moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now and control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in this state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican. But not as what you are hearing from them on the far right, not this clash that you are getting from the quote-unquote power brokers of the party now: ‘We are right-to-life, we are pro-assault-weapon or anti-gay.’ …”

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox ignored any nuance meant by the governor when Cox issued this statement Monday:

“I call upon Governor Cuomo to apologize to New York’s good conservatives and Catholics for his statement that they ‘have no place in the state of New York’ and to all New Yorkers for poisoning New York’s politics with divisive rhetoric at a time when New York needs to be united to address its continuing economic problems.”

While this newspaper’s editorial opinion is not in the “right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay” camp, what the governor said — no matter what his intentions — goes against everything a democracy should hold dear.

Surely there is room, even for political candidates, to have vastly different opinions than the majority. Not only can there be a place for those views with which many disagree, there MUST be a place for them.

Gov. Cuomo should make that clear, and quit explaining.