October 14, 2015
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Calls Into the Brian Lehrer Show

TOP Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo...
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Earlier today, Governor Cuomo was a guest on The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC. The Governor discussed last night’s Democratic Presidential Debate. Audio of the interview is available here, and a rush transcript is available below:

Brian Lehrer: We’ll get to Bob Woodward in just a minute. Governor Cuomo just called in because he wants to react to last night’s debate. Governor, are you there?

Governor Cuomo: I am, how are you Brian?

Brian Lehrer: I’m good. Thank you for checking in on this. And you’re already declared as a Hillary Clinton supporter, right?

Governor Cuomo: I am a declared Hillary Clinton supporter, so guess what: I believe Hillary Clinton won. I also believe the voters won, because I think it really now advanced this political situation to where we’re having a real dialogue on real issues. And if they want to debate who – or progressive – then we say as New Yorkers that’s a great debate. And we have a definition of the true progressive in New York. Tell me where you are on minimum wage, tell me where you are on the racial justice and what you would do to make sure this is justice for all and address the concerns of the minority community, and tell me where you are on guns. And I’ll tell you Brian, why that gun conversation was important. When they – when Hillary raised, with Bernie Sanders, ‘you gave the gun companies immunity’ – there was a moment in history, and people have forgotten this, where the Clinton Gore administration signed what they called a “Safe Gun Agreement” with the manufacturers. Smith and Wesson signed an agreement – the largest handgun manufacturer in the country – that would have redesigned handguns and made them safer. Fingerprint ID technology, which was available. The gun would only work for the authorized user. When they gave the gun companies immunity from lawsuits, that relieved the pressure on the gun companies and they didn't do the redesign that they could have done. That’s why that bill was so damning. The Bush election against Gore, one of the main issues was Bush said ‘I’ll give the gun manufacturers immunity from lawsuits.’ The only industry in the country that got immunity.

Brian Lehrer: And Sanders voted for that Bill, and Clinton didn’t support it.

Governor Cuomo: Yes.

Brian Lehrer: Now Sanders said on TV the other day that the analogy would be to a hammer manufacturer. So if somebody goes and bonks somebody over the head with a hammer and injures them or kills them, it’s not the hammer manufacturer’s fault, so why doesn’t that analogy hold up for gun manufacturers?

Governor Cuomo: No. it would have been – the analogy is to tobacco manufacturers. You made a product that was inherently dangerous and you didn’t take the proper precautions to protect people. And the tobacco companies paid billions, right? The gun lawsuits – there were 54 of them, all across the country – followed the tobacco analogy. And the gun manufacturers were very nervous. I was HUD secretary. I was negotiating the agreement with the gun manufacturers. They were afraid, Brian, of the legal liability. And they could redesign a gun to make it safer, and that’s why they were afraid of the lawsuit.

Brian Lehrer: Interesting. The other thing that I guess the Sanders supporters would say is, you know, he comes from a rural state with widespread gun ownership. Politicians in their districts have to make certain compromises to remain electable, even if they’re trying to stand on principle on everything else. And maybe an analogy is actually Senator Gillibrand, who was much more pro-gun and was in the blue dog democratic caucus when she represented her upstate congressional district, and then she became more progressive on a bunch of issues once she represented new York, statewide, because that represented the statewide constituency. So is it not fair to let Bernie Sanders off the hook in that way?

Governor Cuomo: No. no. not when Bernie Sanders looks in the camera and says this is about doing what’s right and what’s tough even if it’s not politically popular, the polls, etc. I know the politics of this. I represent New York State. Upstate New York and Vermont and rural communities – I know the political price because I paid, it Brian. My popularity came down 20 points when I passed the gun bill – the safest, smartest gun law in the country. The State of New York doesn’t do enough because guns are coming in from Virginia, etc.

Brian Lehrer: But two thirds of the voters here are downstate.

Governor Cuomo: No, half the voters here, closer to 40 percent in New York City. So yes, it’s good for the 40 percent, it’s not so good for the 60. Do the math. But it was the right thing.

Brian Lehrer: Governor, one more thing – since the question got put to everybody last night: are you a capitalist?

Governor Cuomo: I am a capitalist. This is a capitalist country. I am not a socialist. But I think Senator Clinton did a very good job with this. The Government regulates capitalism because capitalism can destroy capitalism. We saw markets run amok when I was the Attorney General. That’s what the 2007 and 2008 mortgage crisis was all about. They were selling junk and believing each other’s baloney. So capitalism unregulated is capitalism’s worst problem.

Brian Lehrer: New York’s leading Hillary Clinton supporter, at least in elected office, Governor Andrew Cuomo chiming in on last night’s debate. Thank you, Governor.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, Brian.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640

Albany Press Office: 518.474.8418