Cuomo quits New York governor's race
(CNN) -- Trailing in new polls and facing opposition from most party leaders, Democrat Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday his withdrawal from the New York primary for governor.
"We need healing now," Cuomo said as he announced his decision at a news conference in New York City, attended by former President Clinton and other dignitaries. Cuomo endorsed state Comptroller Carl McCall.
"Let Democratic unity start today, not next week," Cuomo said.
Cuomo's departure marks a dramatic turnabout for the man once considered the odds-on favorite for the nomination. McCall had been slowly gaining on him in the polls and recently pulled ahead.
In Washington, CNN asked former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani if he was surprised by the news.
"Of course I'm surprised," he said, pausing for a moment. "He must be reading the polls."
The winner of next Tuesday's Democratic primary will challenge Republican Gov. George Pataki, who is making a bid for a third term. Polls show him with a large lead over both Cuomo and McCall.
Cuomo's withdrawal comes a day after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, who has remained steadfastly neutral in the gubernatorial primary, marched with McCall in the West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn.
McCall has already been endorsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, House Rep. Charles Rangel and a host of other state party leaders.
Cuomo, a housing secretary under former President Clinton and son of former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, entered the Democratic race as the presumptive front-runner.
He relied heavily on a national network of donors, including the family of his wife, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo. She is a daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy.
But McCall, who would be the first African-American to win a major-party nod for governor in New York, quickly drew from deep roots in the party and, following a rancorous summer, has overtaken Cuomo in recent independent polls.
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