Even before he began his term as governor, Andrew Cuomo was being hyped as a future presidential candidate. Of course, that was mostly his dad. But after a wildly successful first half-year as governor, one capped last weekend with the legalization of gay marriage, everyone is talking about Cuomo's prospects for securing the Democratic nomination in 2016. That includes the Times, Politico, the Washington Post, The Week, and others. Is all this speculation about the presidential race after the next presidential race somewhat premature? Yes! Definitely! It's crazy! But this is what the media does to keep itself entertained.
Understandably though, Cuomo wants no part of the frenzy. In fact, according to the New York Post's Fred Dicker, Cuomo has ordered his staff not to talk about 2016 and to "turn down invitations to appear on several high-profile national news shows to discuss gay marriage, believing the media would turn them into discussions of a possible presidential campaign," which is definitely what would happen.
But Cuomo did go on Dicker's radio show this morning, and his fumbling response to Dicker's inevitable 2016 queries demonstrated the awkwardness of Cuomo's situation.
Dicker: Where do you stand on the possibility that you might run in 2016?
Cuomo: Forget 2016; we have an election next year.
Dicker: No, I know, I know, but is it a possibility?
Cuomo: No, it's not a possibility.
Dicker: It isn't? A Shermanesque statement this early? Why would you do that?
Cuomo: It's not about 2016, it's about the power of the passage of marriage equality.
A minute later, Dicker tells Cuomo that an editor at Politico, who was listening to the interview on the radio, thinks, understandably, that Cuomo had ruled out running in 2016.
Dicker: He thinks you ruled out running in 2016, is that true?
Cuomo: No, what I ... let's be clear, let's be clear. I'm not going to engage in this conversation. I'm not going to engage or fuel this speculation. I have a very important job to do, we just started doing it, and I'm going to focus on this job.
It's a lose-lose situation for Cuomo. He probably does want to run for president, so he doesn't want to rule it out (although such proclamations are hardly binding). But admitting that he's thinking about it would only stoke speculation for the next four years or so and make it appear as if he's using his current position as a mere stepping stone to the White House. This is what successful governors, and especially successful New York governors, have to deal with. It could be worse. He could be a failure.