Cuomo's Plan to Put a Democrat in Office

NEW York Gov. Mario Cuomo, the Democrat most prominently not running for president, has a game plan for defeating President Bush in 1992.After launching an ambitious plan for strengthening the infrastructure of New York City this week, and before leaving for Japan, Mr. Cuomo used a Monitor lunch with reporters in Washington to expound on the presidential race. Can Mr. Bush be beaten? "Absolutely," he said. "The president has an extraordinarily weak case to make, really, in some ways weaker than any incumbent's case in a long time." Bush, he adds, "can't even say, 'I did better than Jimmy Carter at giving you a strong economy and giving you jobs. First, the Democrats should pass a full-fledged domestic agenda through Congress, forcing Mr. Bush to veto it. Then, a strong candidate can run a campaign anchored in the substance of an actual program that a Democratic president could sign into law. "So you don't need a platform. You don't need promises. You don't need a long-winded debate," said Cuomo. Further, he said of this Democratic congressional agenda, "I think it's happening." Second, make the case for the Democratic agenda on behalf of American cities - metropolitan districts - rather than black and Hispanic children. "It's the same agenda. The difference is that when you're talking about metropolitan areas you're talking about 80 percent of the American people, and you will have the madam mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., a ... white Republican, there with you." Many wealthy, white Republicans still live in New York City, said Cuomo, and a lot of them "believe the cities are being badly treated." This strategy, Cuomo added, would make the Democratic agenda "less vulnerable to what I think is cheap but effective political attack." Cuomo puts the blame for many of the social and economic problems of his own state on Washington. "What you see that you don't like in New York is America," he says. The social problems, some of them originating in other states, are compressed and visible there, he says. "We are the evidence of a suffering society in this nation." Meanwhile, the Bush administration is "making no effort to deal with the economy. None," says the governor.

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