MILWAUKEE — Coronavirus weakened the United States, but President Donald Trump has weakened the national body over the last four years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said before throwing support Monday night to Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden.
Near the end of a five-minute prerecorded speech from Albany, Cuomo called for the nation to elect a leader who will unify Americans and appeal to their best.
“I know that man,” Cuomo said. “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 can restore the soul of America, and that’s exactly what our country needs today.”
Cuomo was first in a procession of speakers to address the nation Monday night under the theme “We the People” at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, mainly held digitally due to COVID-19. Monday was the first of the four-night prime-time event that will culminate in the party’s nomination of the former vice president and vice presidential selection, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to challenge Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in November.
Other convention speakers Monday included former First Lady Michelle Obama, 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and 2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Cuomo used analogies similar to the visual comparisons he made throughout his daily coronavirus briefings, which drew global attention through the height of the pandemic in New York in the spring.
“COVID is the symptom — not the illness,” Cuomo said. “A virus attacks when the body is weak and it cannot defend itself.”
Trump has weakened America’s body politic over the last few years, Cuomo said, with growing divisions, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric and racism, culminating with the recent international Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a video showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes Memorial Day.
“Only a strong body can fight off the virus and America’s divisions weakened it,” Cuomo said. “Donald Trump didn’t create the initial division. The division created Trump — he only made it worse.”
Cuomo criticized the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it a “failure” as the governor has repeatedly done over the summer. Trump and the federal government watched New York suffer in the early days of the virus, was negligent and learned nothing from its mistakes, Cuomo said.
“The virus had been attacking us for months before they even knew it was here,” he said. “We saw the failure of a government that tried to deny the virus, then tried to ignore it, then tried to politicize it.”
The governor described the United States as a nation in crisis and the ways COVID-19 revealed America’s weaknesses, reviewing how the pandemic has reshaped the country’s government, social unity and leadership.
COVID-19, which has infected more than five million Americans and killed more than 170,000 to date, showed the nation how to put differences aside and find common ground, the governor said.
“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,” Cuomo said. “America can still rise to the occasion. Government can tell the truth and build trust.
“...Americans can work together and forge community in a competent government.”
Wearing masks and remaining socially distanced from others shows Americans we care about each other, Cuomo said.
“We are America, we win wars and we are the greatest country on the globe. 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, love wins. ...
Government matters and leadership matters and it determines whether we thrive and grow or whether we live and die.”
Cuomo reviewed New York’s climb up COVID-19’s steep curve of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, going on to thank the 30,000 out-of-state volunteers who prepared to help the state in its hour of need.
“Your love gave us the strength to carry on,” Cuomo said. “We went through hell, but we learned much.”
Cuomo, who rose to international fame with his daily coronavirus briefings and Powerpoint presentations this spring, will release the book “American Crisis” on Oct. 13 about his experience leading the state through the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a statement Tuesday from Crown, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
He previously published “Crossroads: The Future of American Politics” in 2003 and “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life” in 2014.
“Crisis,” which will be released as a physical book, e-book and audio edition read by the governor, will detail Cuomo’s and New York’s fight against the coronavirus.
“American Crisis” is Cuomo’s personal assessment of the public-health crisis, interactions with the White House and the federal government’s response, economic catastrophe, the decision-making behind the state’s organized response and a national plan forward as the pandemic continues.
“If you don’t feel fear, you don’t appreciate the consequences of the circumstance,” Cuomo writes in “American Crisis.” “The questions are what do you do with the fear and would you succumb to it. I would not allow the fear to control me. The fear kept my adrenaline high and that was a positive. But I would not let the fear be a negative, and I would not spread it. Fear is a virus also.”