Back in March, at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo performed a parody of Donald Trump proposing his immigration plan.
“We write down all the immigrants on the list, and then we kick them all out!” Cuomo-as-Trump said.
“And then, to make sure they don’t come back, we build a wall — the wall! The big wall! A long wall, a thousand-mile wall, like the China wall, but wider, but higher, but nicer.”
“’I’m going to build a wall. But don’t worry, the wall is a beautiful wall!’ ”
Now contrast that Cuomo stand-up act against Trump’s statements Thursday on WDGJ, an Albany radio station. The New York billionaire said he gets along “very well, very well” with the Democratic governor.
Trump said he even spoke with Cuomo at the 9/11 memorial ceremony the previous Sunday. “We had a long talk,” Trump said without elaborating. “We were actually talking to each other a long while.”
True, Trump the previous week — echoing others before him — criticized Cuomo’s Start-Up New York program, which spent $50 million on ads to create a recorded 408 jobs.
But Cuomo’s reaction to that attack sounded to one Politico writer as “measured, if not aggressively tepid” compared with past sharp dismissals of other critics of the program.
And on Friday, Cuomo clearly devised a way to nearly compliment Trump and to give Trump some credit for political astuteness.
“You have a middle class that’s going backwards, you have working families that are going backwards, that are scared to death. Salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living. Period.
“I think it’s more about the audience and their feeling, and their feeling is self-generated. It’s not like a campaign where the actor is generating the feeling — they have the feeling.
“He has tapped into that feeling, and I think that’s what he has done well is associated himself with that frustration, anxiety and anger. I don’t think he created it — it was there, and I think with good cause.”
Friends urged Trump to challenge Cuomo in 2014, but he declined. One of these friends, Carl Paladino, is Trump’s top Western New York supporter. Paladino ran six years ago against Cuomo with such bile that he wielded a bat during his concession speech.
Trump contributed to Cuomo’s previous campaigns, as he did for many Democrats in prior years, including Clinton. In mid-March, Cuomo said he didn’t plan to return any of an estimated $64,000 he’s received from Trump and his family members over his time running for office.
Thirty years ago, before either man was running for anything, life was different for both. Trump was among a cadre of real estate developer clients represented by the law firm Blutrich, Falcone & Miller, where Cuomo — the son of then Gov. Mario Cuomo — was one of five partners. But Trump at the time pointed out that he had retained the firm before Andrew became a partner.
Maybe, as the Republican nominee might put it, something is up between these two. Maybe not. But it’s a curious little display of nonaggression.