By JILL COLVIN, Associated Press
UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday dared New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to challenge him in 2020 — and warned the Democrat, “Anybody that runs against Trump suffers.”
Trump also said that Cuomo once called him and promised that he wouldn’t run against him — a claim that Cuomo’s office did not immediately dispute.
The challenge came as Trump delivered remarks at a fundraising event for Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who is running for re-election. The Utica visit marked Trump’s first as president to an area he won in 2016.
Trump, a New York native, spent much of the event attacking his home-state governor as well as Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also thought to have White House ambitions.
Trump said that Cuomo, who is running for re-election against “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon, called him and told him, “I’ll never run for president against you.”
“But maybe he wants to,” Trump went on, adding: “Oh, please do it. Please. Please. He did say that. Maybe he meant it. The one thing we know — and they do say — anybody that runs against Trump suffers. That’s the way it should be.”
Trump, who flirted with a gubernatorial run before setting his eyes on the White House, argued that New York could have the lowest taxes in the nation if Cuomo had allowed hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state and claimed Cuomo “wants to take away your Second Amendment.”
“It’s very sad to see what’s happened with New York,” he said. “This could have been Boomtown, U.S.A.”
Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to the criticism, but Cuomo on Twitter defended his position on gun rights.
“Donald Trump & the NRA – bankrupt bedfellows: literally and morally,” he tweeted. “Unlike Trump, I’m not afraid to take on the NRA.”
His office released a lengthy statement ahead of Trump’s arrival accusing Trump of having “forgotten what made this country great.”
“Despite being a native New Yorker, since you took office, you have attacked our healthcare, passed a tax law that punished New York in order to fund corporate tax cuts, ripped immigrant New Yorkers from their families, launched an assault on our environment, and undermined the basic values on which this state and this nation were built,” he said.
As for Gillibrand, Trump called her “a puppet” of New York’s other Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer.
“She’s been up to my office looking for campaign contributions. And she’s very aggressive on contributions, but she’s not very aggressive on getting things done,” Trump said.
Gillibrand responded by Twitter: “The President refuses to acknowledge the work I’ve gotten done. Sound familiar, ladies?”
Trump’s fundraising events are usually closed to reporters, but this time White House staff allowed the small group of journalists traveling with the president inside, giving Trump a broader platform for his remarks.