Declaring that only he among potential Republican challengers can beat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Donald Trump Wednesday called Cuomo's premier jobs program "stupid" and said the state's GOP chairman "can't win."
Trump, who has flirted with running for governor and president in the past, came no closer to getting into the race for governor this year. But he did set a path to get out.
If Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino does seek the Republican nomination, "I wouldn't waste my time," Trump told WGDJ-AM in Albany. "I like Rob. If Rob wants to run, I wish him a lot of luck."
Then Trump added: "He's not going to win."
Trump, however, said he could beat Cuomo, but the state Republican Party would have to unite behind him first.
"I think it's a race that could be won, but I wouldn't do it if it wasn't a unified party," Trump said.
Trump has met with some party leaders, while Astorino has taken a more aggressive approach to unify Republican and critical Conservative backing.
Wednesday, Astorino wouldn't comment on Trump, but his spokeswoman underscored that he will make his announcement in February.
"Rob continues to travel the state and go through the process of meeting with leaders to discuss his potential candidacy," said the spokeswoman, Jessica Proud. "He has been humbled by the strong encouragement he's receiving and will make his decision soon."
In his interview, Trump also called Cuomo's Start-Up NY program "stupid" and the TV ad promoting it "obnoxious."
Cuomo's jobs program offers employers 10 years of tax-free existence to come to New York. Trump said it is flawed because business owners won't want to take 10 years of tax-free operation and then be subject to what will still be among the nation's highest taxes.
Cuomo didn't respond to a request for comment.
Trump has name recognition over Astorino, but a Siena College poll earlier this month found that Cuomo would beat Trump 70 percent to 22 percent and that 57 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Trump. Astorino didn't fare any better, but few New Yorkers said they knew enough about him.
State GOP chairman Ed Cox didn't rise to Trump's criticism, and through a spokesman declined to respond directly.But the spokesman, David Laska, issued a statement that made note of Astorino.
"We're thrilled that we have two potential candidates for governor who understand that Andrew Cuomo has failed to seriously address the barriers to economic growth in New York state," said Laska.