CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today delivered one of the most passionate speeches of his career, praising President Obama and his re-election but also displaying his true colors as a "progressive" Democrat.
The New York governor savaged the Republican ticket, and suggested that the New York experience offers a model for Washington, no doubt fueling speculation among those who believe he harbors his own presidential ambitions.
In a rousing address before the New York delegation to the Democratic National Convention, the governor displayed a partisan spirit that seemed to clash with the bipartisan tone of his administration in Albany. But in the political frenzy of a national convention, Cuomo left no doubt as to his philosophy. He called last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa "great political theater" and insisted that the "numbers" behind their theories - especially offered by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan - tell the real story.
"Those numbers tell you their priorities, and those numbers tell you where they will take this nation," he said. "The Ryan budget is a paint by numbers picture of the America they want to bring to us."
Cuomo echoed the defense of Obama's economic record offered by former President Bill Clinton during a convention speech Wednesday night. Cuomo said Obama inherited one of the worst economic situations in history upon taking office. And he scoffed at the idea that the president should be castigated for an approach the GOP now claims is slow and uneven.
"Frankly, it's absurd that the people and party that caused the problem now want to present themselves as solver of the problem," he said.
The governor has shied away from such rhetoric during his 20 months in office, often preferring to work with Republicans in a way that has, in some instances, discouraged the oft-used word "dysfunctional" from discussions about state government.
But there was no question about the color of his political stripes today. He belittled Mitt Romney and his running mate for continually invoking the "American spirit" to foster investment and jobs, suggesting with sarcasm that the "American spirit will make everything OK."
"We invite the 'spirit' to come when we reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans," he said mockingly. "That makes the 'spirit' come to us.
Cuomo has no speaking role at the convention and will not even spend the night here, but speculation about his future was only fueled by the intensity of his attacks on Republicans and defense of Obama.
He said his own philosophy is much like the president's: "We do it our best when we do it together."
Cuomo said that thought and New York's "progressive tradition" have produced results, launching him into a litany of what he called accomplishments. Medicaid savings can be obtained while still providing "intelligent health care," he said, while New York has also adopted a "fair tax" code based on the principle of "the more you make the more you pay.
"That premise has led the State of New York and that premise should lead this discussion," he said. And he vehemently defended philosophy that legalized same sex marriage as another example of New York as the "progressive capital of the nation."
He also said the election offers real choice,
"This election is nothing to be trifled with," he said. "These are very stark choices not just between two men - these are very different philosophies," he said. "This is a gut check election for this country...and we have to be very clear about the choices.
"Yes, the economy is coming back," he said. "But we are going to make the right choices as a nation and we are going to present the options in a way that will allow the nation to make the right choice."
Cuomo's speech - high volume especially at the end - was greeted with equally high volume cheers. Many of the several hundred New York delegates attending, including Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, said she wished the governor had presented the same thoughts to the entire convention
"It hit all the right points," she said.
"That speech should have been given in the convention hall," added Hornell Mayor Shawn D. Hogan. "And if the presidency comes along in '16, I'll be right there behind him."