Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rallied women voters behind Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday, saying he would "fight for every woman and every family to have a fair shot."
Clinton said her new granddaughter, Charlotte, had freshened her perspective on the urgency for initiatives such as Cuomo's women's equality agenda, which seeks to combat workplace sexual harassment, close the wage gap and adopt the full standards of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on abortion as state law.
"There's something about a new life in your family that really does focus you on the future," Clinton told the predominantly female crowd of about 400 at Manhattan's Grand Hyatt New York hotel. "You don't have to be the grandchild of a president to be able to have the right to the best possible education, the best possible health care, the best possible opportunities."
She praised the governor and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, as candidates who "will never waffle on a women's right to make her own reproductive health care choices."
Dozens of attendees filed out of the ballroom after Clinton finished her remarks and Cuomo began his. Clinton had been greeted with shouts of "We love you, Hillary" and chants of "2016."
"I hope she does something really, really, really big," Cuomo teased the crowd. He later told reporters he was not necessarily encouraging Clinton to make a bid for president in 2016 or endorsing her.
"Hillary Clinton can't be endorsed because Hillary Clinton hasn't said she's running for anything," he said. "I don't think it does anyone a service taking a position on a race that may never happen."
Clinton's decision is "personal," the Democratic governor said. Asked whether he is also weighing a presidential campaign, Cuomo said, "No, I'm going through the personal decision of getting re-elected."
Cuomo reiterated his support for abortion rights. He said his Republican gubernatorial opponent, Rob Astorino, does not recognize a woman's right to choose.
"This is not about your religion, this is about the law," said Cuomo, who like the Westchester County executive is Catholic, but he would not disclose his private view on abortion.
Cuomo and Astorino sparred on the issue at a debate Wednesday in Buffalo.
Astorino told reporters Thursday in Albany that he wouldn't try to roll back abortion rights, which are well protected by the Democratic-led state Assembly, if elected. He said Cuomo is using abortion, which isn't threatened in New York State, as a way to avoid talking about corruption.
Astorino also said he has received a rush of campaign donations since the debate and will make a late push with more TV ads. "We're going to duke it out these last 12 days," he said. He said much of that effort will be on Long Island.
Also Thursday, Cuomo released a policy book after being criticized for months for failing to release new initiatives for a second term. He had provided several policy books in his 2010 campaign.
The new book mostly continues current programs or lists programs he has already announced, such as a new initiative to connect with global markets. One of the new ideas is the "Get on Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program" to help college graduates afford getting started in the workforce without being burdened by college loan debt.