DNC 2020: NY Gov. Says 'Leadership Matters' as America Faces Coronavirus, Deep Divisions

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought his coronavirus message to primetime during the opening night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention to endorse Joe Biden as the leader America needs in a time of crisis.

The governor started his five minute speech by thanking those who help New York when it was "ground zero" for the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and criticized the Trump administration for its response to the pandemic.

"We saw the failure of a government that tried to deny the virus, then tried to ignore it, and then tried to politicize it," Cuomo said. "The failed federal government that watched New York get ambushed by their negligence and then watched New York suffer, but all through it, learned absolutely nothing."  

He warned the nation is still unprepared as it faces "a second threat" and also described COVID as a metaphor for the divisions "that have been growing deeper" within the country.

Cuomo said the country is in need of a leader "who can unify, not divide" and "who can bring us up, not tear us down."

He described presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden as "America tough" and said he can "restore the soul of America."

Read Cuomo's full remarks:

Hello. Today is Monday— Day 170. New Yorkers were Ground Zero for the COVID virus, and have gone from one of the highest infection rates on the globe to one of the lowest. 

We climbed the impossible mountain and right now we are on the other side. We did it with the kindness and assistance of so many. New Yorkers want to thank everyone who came to our aid: 30,000 Americans who volunteered to come help us in our hour of need. Your love gave us strength to carry on.  

We went through hell, but we have learned much. We know that our problems go beyond the COVID virus. COVID is the symptom, not the illness. Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, COVID is just a metaphor. A virus attacks when the body is weak and when it cannot defend itself. 

Over these past few years, America’s body politic has been weakened. The divisions have been growing deeper: the anti-Semitism; the anti-Latino and anti-immigrant fervor; the racism in Charlottesville, where the KKK didn’t even bother to wear their hoods; and in Minnesota, where the life was squeezed from Mr. Floyd. 

Only a strong body can fight off the virus, and America’s divisions weakened it. Donald Trump didn’t create the initial division, the division created Trump – he only made it worse.  

Our collective strength is exercised through government, it is in effect, our immune system, and our current federal government is dysfunctional and incompetent. It couldn’t fight off the virus, in fact, it didn’t even see it coming. The European virus infected the Northeast, while the White House was still fixated on China. The virus had been attacking us for months before they even knew it was here. 

We saw the failure of a government that tried to deny the virus, then tried to ignore it, and then tried to politicize it. The failed federal government that watched New York get ambushed by their negligence and then watched New York suffer, but all through it, learned absolutely nothing.  

So today, six months after it began, the nation is still unprepared. And we now face a second threat— but this time not from mother nature. This is a man-made threat by our own negligence. We now see the virus ricocheting across the country from one state to another. Today we trail the world in defeating COVID. We have over 5 million cases. 

Americans learned a critical lesson – how vulnerable we are when we are divided, and how many lives can be lost when our government is incompetent. But we learned something else, my friends. We saw the negative, but we also saw the positive.

 As they proved their way failed, we proved that our way succeeded. That America can still rise to the occasion, we can put our differences aside and find commonality, government can tell the truth and can build trust, we can judge by content of character rather than color of skin, we can care for one another. That Americans can work together and forge community and a competent government.

 That, of course, we will wear masks, because we are smart and because I care about you and because you care about me. Of course we will socially distance, because staying away shows how close we actually are. Yes, we will set up testing and tracing and do whatever we need to do to mobilize to win this battle because we are America, we win wars, and we are the greatest country on the globe. And for all the pain and for all the tears, our way worked, and it was beautiful. We showed that our better angels are strong and that Americans will rise to their call. We saw that at the end of the day, even if it is a long day, that love wins. 

Americans’ eyes have been opened and we have seen in this crisis the truth: that government matters and leadership matters. And it determines whether we thrive and grow or whether we live or die.

 Now we need a leader as good as our people. A leader who appeals to the best within us, not the worst. A leader who can unify, not divide. A leader who can bring us up, not tear us down.

 I know that man. I’ve worked with that man. I’ve seen his talent.  I’ve seen his strength.  I’ve seen his pain, and I’ve seen his heart. That man is Joe Biden. Joe Biden is what I call America tough. Tough in the best way. Tough that is smart, united, disciplined, and loving. Joe Biden can restore the soul of America.  And that’s exactly what our country needs today.

Thank you.

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