WASHINGTON – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday sandwiched a big-bucks fund-raiser between Sunday’s Kennedy Center Honors and a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association on a rare trip to Washington that ended with his typical roll-your-eyes reaction to reporters asking about a possible race for president in 2016.
Cuomo, who rarely spends a night outside the state, began the day Monday at a fundraiser at the G Street offices of Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta. The event gave donors the opportunity to get the title of “chair” if they contributed $25,000 to Cuomo’s yet-to-be-announced bid for re-election in 2014. Those who gave $1,000 got the title of “guest” at the event.
Speaking to reporters just before leaving Washington, Cuomo offered few insights into the closed-door fundraiser, except to say he used the event to promote the state and its tax-free zones for businesses.
Noting that many of the guests at the fundraiser were top-level figures at out-of-state companies, Cuomo said: “One of the things I was saying at the fundraiser was: Bring your business to New York.”
Asked why he visited D.C., Cuomo didn’t mention the fundraiser. Instead, he said he wanted to attend the Kennedy Center Honors to serve as “the New York cheering section” for two of the honorees: pop star Billy Joel and opera singer Martina Arroyo, who are both New Yorkers.
In addition, Cuomo said it was important for him to attend Monday’s meeting of the Democratic Governors Association because of its topic: the latest federal budget battles.
“The budget makes a major difference for the State of New York, and I want to make sure the federal government budget is going to help and not hurt the state,” Cuomo said.
While Congress hopes to strike a budget deal this week, Cuomo said: “There’s so much unknown yet on the federal budget games, right, because it’s not really a thoughtful process at this point. It’s more about politics than about policy.”
Cuomo did not seem interested in talking presidential politics.
Asked if he wanted to put his visit into the context of the 2016 race, Cuomo said: “No, but thanks for asking.”
And when asked why he wanted to do a political event in the nation’s capital at this time, he sarcastically said: “Because when you come to the capital they ask you if it has something to do with 2016 and your running for president.”
Cuomo has steadfastly avoided talk of a 2016 presidential race despite media speculation that he might seek the Democratic presidential nomination if former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton does not.
What’s more, he’s avoided the early primary-state visits and planning typically done by presidential contenders.