UPDATED 1/23/14 with reaction from Mayor de Blasio:
ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — High-profile Republicans and Cardinal Timothy Dolan are among those calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to apologize for “divisive” comments about “extreme conservatives.”
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, Cuomo made the remarks last week while speaking on a radio show about what he described as a split in the moderate and conservative wings of the New York State Republican Party.
“Who are they?” Cuomo said. “Are they these extreme conservatives who are right to life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”
Cuomo’s office said the governor’s comments were taken out of context and that he was only saying that an extreme right-wing candidate cannot win statewide in a moderate state. His spokesman added that Cuomo made it clear in the interview that he respects people who are pro-life and anti-gun control.
On his Sirius Satellite Radio show, Dolan called Cuomo’s remarks “unfortunate at best; inflammatory and outrageous at worst.”
“The extremists are really on the other side,” Dolan argued. “The extremists are those who want to radically expand abortion, are not happy with the way things are, resistant the constitutionally legal restraints that have been reasonably placed upon abortion.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio Thursday jumped to Cuomo’s defense and spoke specifically about people who oppose gun control or abortion.
“I interpret his remarks to say that an extremist attitude that continues the reality of violence in our communities or an extremist attitude that denies the rights of women does not represent the views of the people of New York State,” said the mayor.
New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox blasted Cuomo’s comments as “intolerant” and “arrogant.”
“I call for the governor to apologize to good conservatives and Catholics, who in fact he was saying have no place in New York state,” Cox said.
Others weighed in on Cuomo’s comments.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican who is considering a run for governor this year, said, too, that Cuomo should apologize for his “divisive” and “unacceptable” comments.
The Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, added: “We had hoped that following a period of reflection Governor Cuomo would have realized just how offensive his words were and promptly retracted his statements. Unfortunately, even after five days, this was not to be.”
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