Hillary Clinton endorsed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for a third term Wednesday and cast him as a Democrat who could stand up to a Republican agenda driven by President Donald Trump.
Wading into an election for one of the few times since her presidential run, Clinton returned to Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex, the site of her first 2016 debate with Trump. Though she recalled the “heartbreak” of her loss that year, she said her last visit here “brings back good memories . . . because I won,” referring to the opening debate.
But she pivoted to turn the focus on Trump and a Congress controlled by the GOP. She portrayed New Yorkers as facing an “onslaught of attacks by Republicans” and touted Cuomo — who, as she did in ’16, is facing a challenge from the political left — as the Democrat who could fend it off. Clinton made no reference to Cynthia Nixon, who is taking on Cuomo in a Democratic primary.
“Now, more than ever, we need leaders who will stand up for progressive values. . . . Most of all, we need leaders who believe in producing results,” Clinton said, referring to Cuomo. “He’s not afraid to take on anyone who would hurt this state or our country.”
It’s one of the few endorsements Clinton, a former New York senator, has made since 2016. Cuomo has long ties to her and President Bill Clinton, for whom he served as housing secretary. For his part, the governor said he was “very gratified” for the support.
But not all Democrats were persuaded that Clinton’s seal of approval would be of great benefit. They contended that bringing her to the Democratic convention reopens the party’s 2016 rift between Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination, and the struggle for control between moderates and progressives.
It’s like “telling people on the left to shut up,” Jumaane Williams, who is running for lieutenant governor, allied with Nixon, said of inviting Clinton. “We know the Bernie-Hillary thing caused a lot of consternation for the party, so why” invite Clinton, Williams said.
“Nothing against Hillary Clinton, but I think it sends the wrong message,” said George Albro, a delegate from Brooklyn who supported Sanders in 2016.
Clinton focused primarily on national issues, referring to ongoing fights about immigration, health care, Medicare and aid for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. She contended that “people in every corner of this state are mounting a massive resistance” to the Republican agenda.
She opened her short speech reminiscing about the last time she was at the basketball arena, on Sept. 26, 2016. She said returning was kind of “like a reunion.” Then, generating laughs from her Democratic colleagues, she added: “The kind where you get cornered by that person you least want to talk to.”