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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mario Cuomo made himself a national political star with a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention 28 years ago, but as the party's quadrennial gathering approaches, his son has no intention of doing the same.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be in Charlotte for one day this week, and while he is expected to speak to the New York delegation, he is not on the schedule to address the full convention or any of the other key state delegations.
It's a marked contrast in approach from that of other potential 2016 contenders.
Possible candidates such as Vice President Biden and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will address the convention. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York will address the delegates from the first caucus state, Iowa, and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia will speak to delegates from Iowa and Florida.
Yet to hear Democratic pundits tell it, Cuomo's low-key approach makes perfect sense, even though they think he very well might run for president in four years.
"If and when he steps out on the national stage, there will be inevitable comparisons with his father," said Robert Shrum, a Democratic political consultant who worked for presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry.
And those comparisons may not be entirely helpful to the younger Cuomo. After all, his father was a dynamic speaker who earned the nickname "Hamlet on the Hudson" for toying with and ultimately abandoning presidential runs in 1988 and 1992.
"I really believe it's a prudent decision," Shrum said of Andrew Cuomo's avoiding the limelight and any speculation about a future presidential run. "It's not his moment to step out onto the national stage."
Cuomo's low-key role in Charlotte is of a piece with the approach he's taken to national politics since he entered the governor's mansion in January 2011.
He has not been to Washington since his inauguration.
He hasn't gone anywhere near Iowa or New Hampshire, the first primary state.
And unlike O'Malley in particular, Cuomo has avoided the Sunday talk shows that politicians often use to build a national profile.
To hear Cuomo tell it, it's all because he's doing his job.
Asked about his minimal convention role at a recent media event, the governor acknowledged that he was active at past conventions, when he was working in the administration of former President Bill Clinton and working to get former Vice President Al Gore elected as president in 2000.
But things are different now, Cuomo said.
"I will go to the convention and pay my respects to Mr. Obama," he said. "I'll do what I can to help re-elect President Obama. ... But my job is being governor of the state of New York, and that's a job that's done in the state of New York."
Doing that job is what has made Cuomo a rising star in the Democratic firmament. He enjoys approval rates in his home state of 70 percent or so in poll after poll of New York, and pollsters are already including him in early surveys of Iowa presaging the 2016 caucuses there.
"There's no one else in the country with a 70 percent job approval rating," said Christopher Lehane, a Democratic consultant who has worked for both Gore and Andrew Cuomo.
Lehane, who lives in San Francisco, stirred some speculation with a recent visit to Albany, but he said he was just visiting old friends, including the governor.
Lehane, too, said it's wise for Cuomo to wait before stepping forward on the national scene, if that's what he decides to do.
"Part of the Andrew brand is just rolling up his sleeves and doing the work of governor," Lehane said. "I think he recognizes that. Anything he says or does in the broader national prism could distract from that."
Besides, Lehane and others noted, Cuomo already has assets that would allow him to wait on the sidelines longer than other potential 2016 candidates.
Running for governor of the big-money state of New York, he built a huge and national fundraising base. And the Cuomo name is well-known among older Democrats nationwide, unlike the names O'Malley, Warner or Gillibrand.
Besides, there's one more cold, hard fact that makes it wise for Cuomo to wait before stepping out on the national stage.
"The front-runners are often the first to get knocked off," said Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. "Andrew's approach seems to be: Let me do my job and say smart things, and in time, things will take care of themselves."
Consultants such as Sheinkopf expect Cuomo to wait until after his 2014 re-election campaign before making any move onto the national stage.
And at that point, they say, one looming political force could stop him: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The secretary of state and former New York senator has vowed to leave office and politics after the 2012 presidential election.
But many leading Democrats believe she will face enormous pressure - from her husband and others - to make another presidential run in 2016, even though she would be 69 on Election Day that year.
If Clinton runs, several consultants said, there would be little room for a Cuomo campaign, since both Clinton and Cuomo are from New York and would likely espouse a similarly centrist message.
And besides, Clinton is hugely popular. In its May poll of Iowa Democrats looking toward the 2016 caucuses, Public Policy Polling found Clinton leading with 62 percent, compared with 14 percent for Biden and 4 percent for Cuomo and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Taking Clinton out of the equation, Cuomo is second in Iowa with 14 percent, half of Biden's total. And Cuomo ranks first, with 17 percent, if neither Clinton nor Biden runs.
While many say it's wise for Cuomo to wait before stepping out on the national stage, Cuomo can't wait forever to run for president if he's going to do it.
For one thing, waiting too long will stir up bad memories of his father, who famously left a plane idling on a runway as he made his final decision about whether to declare his candidacy and fly to New Hampshire before the 1992 primary there.
"A lot of people here remember being left at the church" by the elder Cuomo, said Linda L. Fowler, a professor of government at Dartmouth University.
What's more, younger Democrats in the state aren't familiar with Cuomo, said Fowler, who also cited another reason for Cuomo to pay early attention to the Granite State.
"Everybody needs to make contacts here," she said. "The party establishment expects to be courted."
But the party establishment will have to wait a while, at least, before being courted by Cuomo, who won't be doing that sort of glad-handing during his brief time in Charlotte.
Asked by reporters whether he should attend the convention to push the kind of good-government message that's been his hallmark in Albany, Cuomo said no.
"I think that's what the [Obama] campaign is doing for people, what the convention is going to do, and what the campaign going forward is going to do," he said. "They don't need me to do it."

email: jzremski@buffnews.com