SAN JUAN -- New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took his campaign for a second term to the Caribbean Friday with stops in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic -- two places with significant ties to the state that Cuomo governs.
Cuomo met with Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla and pledged to boost business ties between New York and the U.S. territory. He said the island's ailing economy could benefit from New York State government initiatives such as Global New York and a planned state import-export program aimed at developing markets for New York businesses.
Cuomo's Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, campaigned on Long Island Friday with Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.
Cuomo promised to bring more trade missions to the island to bolster the territory's struggling economy and take advantage of the deep ties between Puerto Rico and New York.
"We will be bringing more business relationships to build on the cultural relationships we already have," Cuomo said.
He praised Garcia for making difficult decisions to help bolster Puerto Rico's sluggish economy, which Cuomo said bore similarities to the economic situation he dealt with in New York. "We've had to make reforms in the pension system," Cuomo said. "That is very, very difficult to do."
Cuomo met earlier Friday with Dominican President Danilo Medina and said he wants to encourage a closer relationship and will return on a trade mission if he wins re-election next month.
During their meeting at the presidential palace, Cuomo said that he and Medina discussed ways to boost trade and the possibility of higher education partnerships.
Astorino and fellow Republican Huckabee, meanwhile, were featured speakers at a fundraiser Friday night for Smithtown Christian School at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
"The best government we have is self-government," Huckabee said. "If we truly had self-government, then the government we did have would be very limited and very local."
With Joan Gralla