Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday together toured the Chelsea neighborhood rocked by an explosion, but the two leaders described the blast that injured dozens of people differently.
Cuomo at a Sunday morning news conference said the event was an act of “terrorism.” De Blasio, at a separate news conference about an hour later, called the Saturday night explosion along West 23rd Street an “intentional” bombing, but stopped short of calling it a terrorist act when asked by reporters.
“We know there was a bombing,” de Blasio said. “That much we do know. We know it was a very serious incident, but we have a lot more work to do to be able to say what kind of motivation was behind this. Was it a political motivation, a personal motivation?”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill repeated de Blasio’s description, telling reporters: “If there is an act of terrorism, we are going to come out and say it.”
Cuomo told reporters that while it was too soon to determine if the incident was tied to an international terrorist group, “a bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism.”
In an interview on MSNBC later Sunday, Cuomo said the different wording used by him and de Blasio was nothing more than “a question of semantics.”
“The mayor and I are in total agreement on the facts and circumstances and the observations. I think it becomes a question of semantics, if anything,” Cuomo said. “Yes, it was an intentional act. It was a violent act. It was a criminal act. And it was an act that frightened, hurt and scared many, many people. And generically, you call that terrorism.”
Cuomo administration officials on Sunday said the governor’s staff and mayor’s office have been working together to coordinate response efforts.
“We’ve been working very closely together on the staff level,” de Blasio spokesman Eric F. Phillips said in an email to Newsday. “The mayor and governor are absolutely in sync on incident response and ongoing security issues in the City.”