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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Cuomo to Pull Out of New York Governor's Race

Aired September 3, 2002 - 13:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We need to take you to New York, where we are covering another live event, and that is that trailing in new polls, and facing opposition from most party leaders, we are told that Democrat Andrew Cuomo is expected to withdraw from the New York primary for governor. He is now stepping up to the podium. A number of people, as you can see, by his side, including former president Bill Clinton. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHARLIE KING (D), NEW YORK LT. GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: ... Cuomo and Governor and Matilda Cuomo. All right. OK. Let's hear it for the Democratic party.

For those of you who may not -- for those of you who may not yet know me, my name is Charlie King, and I have spent about one year doing everything that I could to bring down George Pataki and his mediocre government because I believe that New York deserves better than George Pataki. And during the course of my campaign -- during the course of my campaign, I have said over and over again, it is not my turn to become lieutenant governor. It is not Dennis Mehiel's turn to become lieutenant governor, it is not Andrew Cuomo's turn to become governor, it is not Carl McCall's turn to become governor.

What I have said is that it is the turn of our children to get the best education in the nation. It is the turn -- of our parents. It is the turn of our parents to know that their best years are ahead of them, and not behind them. It is the turn of Upstate New Yorkers to know that their children will not leave this state and will stay here because they believe there is a future. It is the turn of New Yorkers to get the best government that they can get. And in order for New York to get its turn at the best government that it can get, we need to make sure that we get rid of George Pataki and get rid of his administration and bring in a Democratic administration.

I believe -- I believe that the best chances of defeating George Pataki is for a united Democratic Party now. And to that end, I am ending my campaign activities for lieutenant governor in the primary, and I am focusing all of my attention on making sure that we take out George Pataki and his mediocre government because -- the eye on -- we need to make sure that we keep our eyes on the prize, and the eyes on the prize is, we need to get a Democratic in as lieutenant governor, we need to get a Democrat in as governor.

I have had the honor of serving with two great men: President Bill Clinton and Andrew Cuomo when he was HUD secretary. They both taught me what is the most important thing in all of this, and the most important thing is to make a difference in the lives of people in New York, across the state, across the country. No matter how you serve, you should serve and make that difference.

I have also had the pleasure of not only working with Andrew, but running with him as his running mate for lieutenant governor, and what I can tell you is that he has brought such a vitality to the Democratic party that his candidacy has enlarged the Democratic party, bringing younger people in when they felt that they couldn't be in, bringing Upstate New Yorkers in to believe that they can make a difference, bringing people from all walks of life into the Democratic Party.

He has been a person who has said not only that we can, but that we will, and that is what his candidacy has been about, and that is what his future is about, and that is what he has done everyday of his life. He has worked to make a fundamental difference, not just a small difference, but a fundamental difference in the lives of everybody that he touches, and that is pure magic, Andrew.

My only regret -- my only regret is that in addition to being running mates, for one night we were roommates -- in a homeless shelter. I won't say he snores. But he is unique to this state. He is unique to this country and I would say that he is unique to this world. He has touched all of us in such a profound way, and for the better.

And it is now my pleasure to introduce to you Andrew Cuomo.

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Let's hear it -- let's hear it for Charlie King. Charlie King. Charlie is a voice of progress, he is a voice of inspiration, and I was honored -- honored to have him on my ticket and run with him across the state of New York. I was honored to work with him at HUD. He is truly, truly a treasure in public service, and I look forward to working with him in the future, and it was one of the real gifts I have going forward are the number of friendships and the number of relationships that I have developed, and Charlie and his family are top among them.

Let's give a round of applause to President William Jefferson Clinton. I was there -- I started on day one of the Clinton administration, actually before day one, because I came down for the transition, so I was actually there before day one, and I stayed for the entire time, and I literally walked out the door with the president on the last day, and I was proud of every day of service with William Jefferson Clinton.

New York's Congressman Charlie Rangel. The greatest governor in the history of the state of New York, Mario Cuomo. The greatest first lady in the history of the state of New York Matilda Cuomo. The best campaign partner you could ever have, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo. The greatest sister-in-law, Laurie Kennedy (ph). My sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, Kenneth Cole, Russell Simmons. My brother-in-law, Brian O'Donoghue, and on and on and on -- my brother, Christopher Cuomo. He is a journalist -- he is a journalist, but besides that, he is really a nice guy. Chris, welcome. I can't tell you how much fun this campaign has been. It has been over 18 months, and I enjoyed every day on the trail, and we did good work. We accomplished great things.

A political movement that has force is about ideas and about energy, and we brought both to this campaign. We laid out a full reform agenda from campaign finance reform to lobbying reform to education reform to reforming the Rockefeller drug laws instead of just talking about them, raising the minimum wage rather than just talking about it. We talked -- we talked about issues that people didn't want to talk about. We talked about poverty, and income and equality, and racism and discrimination, even though it is not politics, that it has to be on the table if you are really going to be a progressive movement, and we brought that to this discussion, and that is a priceless asset for the process.

But I also learned you can sometimes have too many good ideas, and when you try to communicate too many ideas, sometimes you wind up communicating nothing, and in part the campaign did that, and we fell behind in the polls in July and August, and it was my campaign, and I am accustomed to leadership, and I accept full responsibility for the way the campaign was run, and we wound up behind in the polls, and then we had to catch up, and my adviser said to catch up, this is how you do it: you run negative TV ads, talking about your opponent and what your opponent has done or hasn't done, and you can use that to lift yourself up. You can go negative, as they say, and they believed that we could run negative ads and we could actually make up the difference. That is something I don't want to do, and I will not do.

This is not to say that I don't want to win. I do want to win very badly. I tend to be a competitive fellow, and I tend to believe we could do great, great things for the state of the New York.

It is not that I don't believe in vigorous political debate. I do, but this is also a very special time, and in many ways a unique time. We still have an open wound that we are dealing with from last year's Democratic mayoral election, and feelings are still sensitive and fragile. We need healing now, maybe more than ever before, especially in the memory of 9/11.

If we were to now spend $2 million this week on an acrimonious campaign, we would only guarantee a bloody and broke Democratic nominee, whoever won, and ultimate success for Governor Pataki in November would be assured. Maybe we could win the battle, but we would lose the war, my friends, and that is not what this is about. I believe in President Clinton's one America. I believe in Mario Cuomo's legacy of the family of New York. I believe in Robert Kennedy's spirit of brotherhood. That is my political philosophy. That is what this campaign has been about, bringing people together in community and sharing and helping, and I am not going to start dividing now.

PHILLIPS: Well, he hasn't exactly come out and said it, but the purpose of this briefing with family and friends and reporters is that Andrew Cuomo is said to be pulling out of the New York race for governor, this is what we do know. He has talked about his 18 months of campaigning, that they have been very fruitful. He has been trailing in new polls, and facing opposition from most party leaders, but according to reports and according to Andrew Cuomo, coming close to coming and saying it directly, he is expected to withdraw from the New York primary.

Aides to Cuomo met this morning in New York City to discuss a possible endorsement of State Comptroller Carl McCall. We'll continue to follow up on that. If you don't know who McCall is, he would be the first African-American to win a major party nod for governor in New York. The winner of next Tuesday's Democratic primary will challenge Republican Governor George Pataki who is making a bid for his third term.

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