Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that Washington's debt crisis could hurt the economic recovery, and while he wouldn't blame President Barack Obama, he didn't exactly lead any cheers for the Democrat seeking a second term.
Cuomo, whom supporters have touted as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the political fight between Obama and congressional Republicans that put the nation's credit in the balance was "disruptive" to the nation. Cuomo said it played out in a "less-than-flattering process" worldwide.
"I think the best thing you can say is that it's not a default," Cuomo said, noting the resolution can still be a blow to consumer confidence. "Instead, you should have confidence in the government."
Cuomo met with reporters as the Dow Jones industrial average was tumbling, ending in a 513-point loss, the worst drop since October 2008.
Asked if Obama showed leadership in the debt dispute, Cuomo answered: "It would have really damaged the economy of the nation and I think based in part on the president's leadership, that was avoided."
On whether he has faith in Obama's economic policies, Cuomo said: "I am an optimist. I have faith. I believe when we look back in a few months, this Washington episode will be a blip."
Baruch College politics professor Doug Muzzio described the comments read to him as "objectively reserved."
"Clearly he wasn't a cheerleader, but clearly he recognizes the complexity of the situation and Obama's role in this," Muzzio said. "This is not a ringing endorsement of either Obama's leadership or his economic stewardship, but it's certainly not a critique."
Cuomo's responses to questions about Obama — a day after the governor hosted a fundraiser for the president — seemed reserved compared to the camaraderie in a 2009 presidential stop in Troy. Back then, Obama gave then-Gov. David Paterson a cordial nod from the podium, calling him a "wonderful man." Then Obama joked and chatted up Cuomo with national TV cameras capturing the image, saying the then-attorney general was doing "great work."
The interplay followed reports that Washington Democrats signaled to Paterson, whose lack of popularity might hurt the party's midterm election chances, that he should drop his run for a full term.
Three months later, Paterson did, and Cuomo announced his candidacy.
Cuomo, coming off big political wins that included cutting state spending and legalizing gay marriage, had a 56 percent job approval rating among New Yorkers in a NY1-YNN-Marist College poll released Wednesday night. That was up from 54 percent in May. Obama's approval rating among New Yorkers dropped to 46 percent, down from 53 percent in January.