Stop Cuomo?

January 04, 1991

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo spoke to the National Press Club in Washington recently. This is one of the most high-visibility forums for a politician aspiring to move from the local to the national stage. That is especially so when the politician is a member of the party not controlling the White House, and when the speech is delivered a mere 13 months before the New Hampshire presidential preference primary.

To an overflow crowd he delivered a speech in which the most memorable moment was when he put tongue between his lips and made a wet, rude noise. That was his assessment of the recent federal budget deficit process and agreement. As for questions about plans to run for president, he said, once again, ++ that he had no plans.

Maybe it's time to start taking this to mean that Mr. Cuomo is not going to run for president. Maybe he believes that given his state's low bond rating and high crime rate, what Republicans would do to him in a presidential campaign would make Gov. Michael Dukakis' 1988 ordeal seem gentle, a torture he does not wish to endure. Maybe those who accuse the party's new moderate organization, the Democratic Leadership Conference, of running a "stop Cuomo movement" ought to consider the possibility that there is no movement to stop.

The DLC says it is not interested in stopping or starting any individual, only in advancing its "mainstream" ideas. Nevertheless, its present activities in organizing at the grass roots level are bound to be helpful in advancing the presidential campaigns of any of its members who decide to run. The most likely beneficiaries are Sens. Lloyd Bentsen, Albert Gore Jr. and Sam Nunn.

Members of the liberal -- the Cuomo -- wing of the party may not like the thought of one of those men winning the party's 1992 presidential nomination. They may want to stop them. If so, they better try to get a final answer from Governor Cuomo soon, so that if he is not going to run, they can start looking for an alternative. The only way to stop one candidate is with another one.

Of course, you can say the same thing about the DLC possibles, none of whom has yet announced.

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