CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday called the race for the White House a "gut check election" and offered a stinging indictment of Republican policies on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention.
Cuomo has downplayed any interest in a possible 2016 White House bid but his rousing address before hundreds of New York Democratic activists was unlikely to tamp down the speculation.
His speech, interrupted multiple times by applause, included a sweeping rebuke of the budget plan offered by GOP running mate Paul Ryan, a firm defense of President Barack Obama's policies and an outline of his agenda in Albany. With a partisan tone, Cuomo painted Republicans as instrumental in pushing policies that led to the economic decline.
"They created it and frankly it is absurd that the people, the party that created the problem, now want to present themselves as the solver of the problem for the American people," Cuomo said, his voice rising. "It is absurd!"
Cuomo was only spending one day in Charlotte and did not have a speaking role at the convention. Potential 2016 contenders for the White House, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and others, were meeting with key delegations and party leaders. Cuomo made no mention of any future ambitions but described New York as a model for a nation trying to rebound from the recession.
Obama "inherited one of the worst economies in history," Cuomo said, but pushed an agenda to improve education, promote the building of roads and infrastructure and bring more "fairness" to the tax system — an approach Cuomo said had been accomplished in New York.
"We know the president is right and we know he can do these things because we are doing these things in New York," he said. Cuomo said the country would need to "take a long look in the mirror. This is a gut check election for this country," he said, urging delegates to work toward Obama's re-election.
The breakfast at the delegation's suburban hotel, under a white tent lined with rows of red, white and blue balloons, gave the appearance of a coming out party for Cuomo. The governor arrived and departed to Bon Jovi's "Work for the Working Man" blaring from speakers and party leaders repeatedly praised the governor's tenure in New York.
"He has remade the state in function and in spirit and the results speak for themselves," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
Follow Ken Thomas: www.twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas