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Mario Cuomo dead; former governor of New York was 82

Gov. Mario Cuomo is interviewed at his office

Gov. Mario Cuomo is interviewed at his office at the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher on May 13, 2009. The former governor discussed his role in the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant decommissioning. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mario Cuomo, the three-time Democratic governor of New York who turned down several invitations to seek the U.S. presidency, has died at the age of 82.

His death came on the day that his son, Andrew Cuomo, delivered his inaugural address from the 64th floor of the World Trade Center for his own second term as governor. An emailed statement from the governor's office attributed the elder Cuomo's death to natural causes due to heart failure.

In his inauguration address on Thursday Andrew Cuomo said he had read his speech to his father the night before.

"He said it was good, especially for a second termer," the younger Cuomo said. "He couldn't be here physically today, my father. But my father is in this room. He is in the heart and mind of every person who is here."

Mario Cuomo was first elected as governor in 1982 and came to national attention two years later when he gave an electrifying keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

The speech came in the middle of the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, who had likened Americato a "shining city on a hill."

Cuomo responded by saying, "A shining city is perhaps all the president sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well.

"But there's another city; there's another part to the shining city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate."

His speech defining Republicans as looking out only for the well-off and Democrats as champions of the middle class and the poor propelled Cuomo to the forefront of the party leadership.

After easily winning re-election to a second term as governor, Cuomo was the apparent front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. There were reports of a private plane idling on a runway in New York's capital of Albany to fly him to New Hampshire to file for the nation's first primary.

But the filing deadline came and went, and Cuomo's reputation as a reticent Hamlet-like figure began to grow.

A similar scenario came about in 1992 with Cuomo again the focus of Democratic presidential anticipation. But he said state budget problems needed his attention and declined to run again.


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