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Cuomo Spells Out Strategy to Beat Bush

From Associated Press

New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo on Friday offered an aggressive domestic-policy message he said could enable Democrats to defeat President Bush next year, but he insisted anew that he has no desire to be the candidate.

The case against Bush is potent, Cuomo said, but “there are better instruments for its delivery, I assure you.”

He told the U.S. Conference of Mayors that the Ronald Reagan and Bush administrations, aided by the acquiescence of the Democratic Congress, have soaked the middle class and left most of the nation’s cities and states in or near financial ruin.

The ultimate price, Cuomo said, is lousy schools, rampant crime, violence and drug abuse that is destroying the hopes of America’s children.

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“Many of them become familiar with the sound of gunfire before they ever hear the sound of an orchestra,” he said. “That combined threat is greater by far than any threat we face from abroad.

“I don’t think my state has ever needed a governor more than it does right now,” Cuomo added, in a statement that amounted to the strongest indication yet that he does not intend to run. But once again he did not rule anything out.

Cuomo sided with the mayors in calling on Congress to pass a legislative package that would bring cities relief, including anti-recession measures, a transportation bill and proposals promoting affordable housing and anti-drug programs.

“Right now, the Democrats do not have an agenda for America,” Cuomo said. But he said a flurry of activity by Congress would provide a major boost to Democratic presidential candidates.

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“As soon as they get out there, and this is the message, I believe the country will be astonished at how much support there is for it,” Cuomo said. “The notion that the Republicans are unbeatable is simply foolish.”

Cuomo assailed Bush and the Congress for refusing to redirect some federal money to help alleviate financial strains that are “shaking statehouses and city halls from one coast to the other.”

And he recalled the billions of dollars spent on the savings and loan bailout, the Persian Gulf War and overseas disaster relief in dismissing the excuse that the federal government has no money to help.

“The simple truth is you can get the wealth if you think it’s important,” Cuomo said.

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He offered a word of encouragement to the mayors, who spent much of their two-day meeting trying to craft a strategy to force urban issues into the presidential campaign.

“Once you get down into the issues, all the issues are with you,” Cuomo said.


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