New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo came under heavy fire Wednesday for declaring America "was never that great" during a stinging rebuke of President Donald Trump.
During an impassioned speech criticizing Trump's comments and policies toward women, Cuomo argued the president's slogan, "Make America Great Again," is aimed at moving the nation backward on issues of equal rights, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
"The simple point is all this comes down to this: We're not going to make America great again," the governor said, per the paper. "It was never that great. We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged. We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women — 51 percent of our population — is gone."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro said Cuomo owed the nation an apology.
"America, with its imperfections, has always been great," Molinaro said in a statement, per the D&C. "Our people, our principles, and our promises have been a beacon light to the world for 242 years and counting."
The state GOP also called the comment "offensive" and called "on every Democratic candidate and elected official to condemn his remarks immediately."
In a subsequent statement, Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said the governor — seeking a third term in November and a prospective 2020 presidential candidate — tried to clarify the remarks as being aimed at Trump's policies.
"The governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality," Lever said. "America has not yet reached its maximum potential."
Cuomo's comments follow Trump's visit to Upstate New York on Monday, when he mocked his fellow Queens native's White House ambitions at a fundraiser.
"One thing we know and they do say: Anybody who runs against Trump suffers," the president said.
And Trump responded to Cuomo's Wednesday comments later on Twitter:
"'WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.' Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!"
Cuomo quickly fired back with a reply on Twitter:
"What you say would be 'great again' would not be great at all...We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK. Like NY's motto says: Excelsior -- Ever Upward (not backward)"
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