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The political campaigns are not about the candidates,

The political campaigns are not about the candidates, they are about the electorate, which is by and large very unhappy, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. In July 2016 he spoke during the Democrats' nominating convention in Philadelphia. Credit: Getty Images / Aaron P. Bernstein

ALBANY

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has been directing major league political strategy since his early 20s, said most people are being distracted from the real crux of this heated, nasty presidential election.

“On the political stage this year, it’s less about the actors and more about the audience,” Cuomo said Friday. “The audience is really unhappy and should be. You have a middle class that is going backward, you have people who are scared to death.”

Republican Donald Trump “has tapped into that feeling, and I think that’s what he has done well, is associated himself with the frustration and anger,” said Cuomo, a Democrat who once labeled conservatives opposed to his gun control measures as extremists who have no place in New York. “But I don’t think he created it. It [the frustration and anger] was there first, and with good cause.”

“It is a mistake for people to dismiss the anger: ‘Well, the economy is doing well, and life is good.’ No, life is good for you, it doesn’t mean life is good for me,” Cuomo said. “That’s where you see the duality in this country. . . . you have more millionaires than ever before, but you have a middle class that is suffering more than ever before.”

He said candidates must be “in sync” with those feelings.

Democrat “Hillary Clinton recognizes the anger and says there is a plan to remedy it and fix it,” Cuomo told reporters. “I think Donald Trump has been successful in associating with it [but] at the end of the day people want to resolve it. That answer is going to be Hillary Clinton.”

A reporter asked Cuomo if the Republican seemed to be hiding a medical problem because of limited information Trump has provided from his doctor.

“No,” Cuomo said. “I think he reveals what he feels comfortable revealing,” Cuomo said. “You have privacy laws about health . . . so I don’t think it’s anyone’s position to say what details should be disclosed.”

“I think it is fair to say, ‘Are you healthy, can you do the job?’ and I think both candidates have clearly answered that question.”

Cuomo also dismissed the importance of Clinton’s stumble on Sunday at the Sept. 11 memorial in Manhattan, but stumbled himself a bit by first saying at first that she fainted. The Clinton campaign has denied that, blaming the incident on pneumonia and dehydration.

“People get sick, people get dehydrated and people faint, or get unstable on their feet,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think that’s new to anyone. This political season is unlike anything else. Everything is hyperbole, and everything is magnified, and everything is overdramatized.”

Cuomo said he has for years known Trump, a Manhattan developer who wrote Cuomo a $25,000 campaign check in 2009 when the Democrat ran for governor, and has contributed thousands more since. They were cordial at a Sept. 11 memorial on Sunday, which Cuomo said reflected the apolitical solemnity of the day.

Cuomo had worked for President Bill Clinton, was an early endorser of Hillary Clinton and has been her surrogate on gun control.

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