Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's comments Friday about extreme conservatives having no place in New York have generated a lot of interest over the last week.
Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone on Wednesday called the comments by Cuomo “the best example of extremism I’ve heard for a long time.”
The complete audio of Cuomo's "The Capitol Pressroom" interview conducted by Susan Arbetter can be found on the WCNY website. The controversial remarks occur around the 8-minute mark in response to a question posed by Arbetter about 7:15 into the show.
Below is a transcript of that portion of the interview, showing the full context of the remarks:
Q: You're raising money from what can be argued are traditionally Republican donors. The Democratic Party has always been sort of this big tent, but because you're raising money from these traditional Republican donors there's a fear you're leaving your progressive roots behind, which was sort of emblematic that you visited the Harbor Club yesterday. It sort of underscores that move away from traditional Democratic values, don't you think?
A: Yeah, I think that's actually the ... I don't think that's right, Susan. I think it is a very important point, but I don't think it's that I'm less of a Democrat. I think what you're seeing is you have a schism within the Republican Party. You have the Republican Party searching for an identity. They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican Party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out.
It's very interesting, because it’s a mirror of what is going on in Washington, right? The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It’s more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans. The moderate Republicans in Washington can't figure out how to deal with the extreme Republicans. The moderate Republicans are afraid of the extreme conservative Republicans in Washington, in my opinion.
You’re seeing that play out in New York. The SAFE Act. The 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 the 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’s who they are and they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.
If they’re moderate Republicans, like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate -- moderate Republicans have a place in this state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican, but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right. Not this clash that you're getting from the quote unquote, power brokers of the party now -- we are right-to-life, we are pro-assault weapon. ...
Look at their positions and you see a great battle of positions that are now being criticized that were passed by the moderate Republicans in the Senate. That's what's going to play out this year -- who are the Republicans and who wins between the extreme conservatives and the moderates.