NEW YORK (AP) — In a searing speech from the pulpit of a black church, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a Brooklyn congregation on Sunday that Donald Trump is a "slick salesman" who fooled many people in this country, but the Democrat said the Republican president hasn't fooled New Yorkers.
Cuomo spoke at Brooklyn's First Baptist Church of Crown Heights after a week of criticism for saying America "was never that great" during a bill signing. New York Republicans have demanded he apologize, and Trump tweeted that Cuomo was having a "total meltdown."
The governor seemed to counter what many observers considered a political blunder — a play on Trump's "Make America Great Again" signature line that Cuomo later acknowledged was "inartful" on his part.
This time, he offered a loftier exhortation: "Mr. President, you are not taking this nation back in time, because we believe our best days are ahead of us, not behind us. And we will bring the light, and we will overcome, and we will vindicate this nation's better angels together."
Cuomo told the congregation that New York's Statue of Liberty is a symbol of America's acceptance of people of all races, beliefs, languages and lifestyles. By contrast, he said, the wall Trump wants built along the border with Mexico represents rejection of those who are different.
The rest of Cuomo's speech was peppered with a point-by-point attack on the policies, language and behavior of a president who lost his home state in the 2016 election.
He hammered Trump for creating what Cuomo called a "frightening portrait" of today's America.
"You may be a slick salesman who fooled many people in this country, but you didn't fool me and you didn't fool New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "We know who you are and we're going to rise up and tell this nation the truth about who you are, because when the voice of division is raised, a chorus of unity must rise in response."
Addressing minority communities like the Crown Heights neighborhood, the governor noted that New York state has the strongest gun control law in the nation "because we're tired of seeing people getting massacred on our streets," while the president "is blind to the suffering and pain of gun violence,"
Cuomo also touched on Trump's attitude toward women, including former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman, whom Trump has called a "dog" and a "lowlife" after she publicly criticized him.
"If a woman dares to speak up, then King Trump attacks her," said Cuomo, who called the president the "Great Divider in Chief."