NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is standing by his regional approach to reopen the economy as the coronavirus pandemic enters its next phase, even as a war of words erupts with the President Donald Trump.
“We need a public health strategy and an economic strategy. They have to work together, and we have to take one step at a time,” Cuomo told CBS This Morning. “We’ve said we want to do it as a region, because that’s how this virus acts, frankly. It doesn’t stop at a state border. And to come back from this, we should do it regionally and share information. Nobody knows everything here”READ MORE: Commuters Say Traffic In New York City Is An Accident Waiting To Happen
On Monday, the governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island agreed to come up with a regional plan to get people back to school and work.
Hours after the announcement, Trump claimed to have total authority over the process.
“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s gonna be,” he said during his evening press conference.
.@NYGovCuomo on President Trump claiming that it's his call when states re-open: "The president's position is just absurd. It's not the law. It's not the constitution. We don't have a king. We have a president." pic.twitter.com/NHSEA7tGfE
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) April 14, 2020
Cuomo told CBS This Morning “the president’s position is just absurd. It’s not the law. It’s not the Constitution. We don’t have a king, we have a president.”
“This is a total reversal of the president’s first position. ’He has total authority to open up the economy.’ Then why didn’t he have authority to close the economy? Why did he leave it to the states and to the governors to close it down? Why did he take the position that, ‘well it’s up to the states to buy medical equipment, etc. It’s not my responsibility, it’s all the states.’ Now this is a total 180,” he said. “All of a sudden, he’s in charge of reopening. And by the way, if he wants to do more on the reopening, God bless. I mean, this is a daunting task for anyone. You want to figure out how to do widespread testing, which the federal government should? Do it. But it has to be cooperative, and it has to be mutual.
“And I understand this is a hyper-partisan environment and the president’s running for reelection, I don’t care,” he added. “I’m going to work with the federal government, whoever it is, hand in hand, because that’s in the best interest of the people of my state. And nobody can do this alone, because nobody’s done it before.”
Trump later tweeted, saying, “Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”
Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2020
Followed by, “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all-time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!”
Tell the Democrat Governors that “Mutiny On The Bounty” was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2020READ MORE: NYPD Hosts Block Party In Same Mount Eden Neighborhood Where Children Were Caught In Middle Of Gunfire
The governor addressed the president’s tweets during his daily COVID-19 press conference, saying “he’s clearly unhappy.”
“The president is clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue. The worst thing we can do in all of this is start with political division and start with partisanship. The best things we have done throughout this past 44 days is we’ve worked together, and we haven’t’ raised political flags,” he said. “Even in this hyper-partisan environment, even though it’s an election year, even though the politics are so intense, we said not here, not in this. This is too important for anyone to play politics. It was a no politics zone. This is just about doing the right thing, working together. And that’s important, and we have to stay there.
“The president will have no fight with me. I will not engage in it. I’ve sat here every day… asking New Yorkers to remember that this is not about me, it’s about us,” he added. “I understand you’re personally inconvenienced, I understand you’re frustrated and stressed and anxious and feeling pain. Think about we. Get past yourself and think about society, and think about your family, and think about interconnection and act responsibly for everyone else. This is no time for politics and it is no time to fight. I put my hand out in total partnership and cooperation with the president.”
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So who does Mayor Bill de Blasio think should be making the decision?
“I’m going to declare myself a conservative,” the mayor said Tuesday morning. “The fact is we cannot jump too soon. This is all about safety, and all about health. That’s all we should be thinking about. That does not mean we don’t need to restart the economy. We do, of course. People’s livelihoods depend on it. We’ve got to over time get back to normal.”
CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer asked De Blasio whose decision he would follow — the governor or the president?
“My profound concern is that if we do this the wrong way, if we do it prematurely, we will see a resurgence of this disease,” said the mayor. “This disease is a ferocious one. It has put the entire nation, the entire world back on his heels. So we would be fools, I think, to ignore the warnings we have received and including places that did act a little prematurely and ended up paying for it.”
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In Tuesday’s interview, Cuomo was pressed for a timeline and whether he’ll make it to a Mets game this summer.
“I would like to start watching sports, whether or not we sit in a stadium with thousands of others. I don’t know that that is in the short-term, foreseeable future. But I don’t know why we can’t be watching it on television. Why can’t you have sports games with no audiences? To start the sports and the entertainment so people have something to watch and follow,” he said. “But you’re talking months of reentry. You’re talking a phased reentry.
“There is no clear benchmark that you can set. Obviously everybody wants to do it tomorrow, ASAP. But you have to calibrate it by watching the spread of the virus. So start opening the valve of people coming back out and economic activity,” he added. “But while you’re opening the valve, watch the numbers every day of the spread of the virus. You’ve seen countries reopen too aggressively, the virus came back, they had to close again. We don’t want to make that mistake.”
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He was also asked if he regrets not shutting down schools and businesses sooner.
“I think if you could replay the tape, yeah, I want to know where we were in December as a nation, where we were in January as a nation. Where were we when we saw these cases in China developing? Didn’t we think somebody could get on a plane from China and bring it here? That’s January, that’s February, that’s March, that’s this nation, that’s this White House, that’s every state,” he replied. “So yeah, if you could replay the tape, everybody would do it differently. Every public health expert, every editorial board, every media outlet, every government official would do it differently. But no state moved faster than New York, factually.”
At a Tuesday evening coronavirus briefing, however, the president seemed to change his tone, now saying the states can essentially take the time they need to open up.MORE NEWS: Bear Spotted Roaming Connecticut Neighborhood
“I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening,” Trump said. “I’m not gonna say to Governor Cuomo, you gotta open within seven days. I want him to take his time, do it right and then open New York. I’m not putting any pressure on the governors.”