NBC New York
The president was in Albany Tuesday to meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to introduce his new to-do list for Congress. Melissa Russo reports.
President Barack Obama and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday made clear a central theme that will emerge as this presidential campaign, and perhaps the next, plays out: The economy is getting better.
Cuomo praised Obama's leadership after the two men toured a high-tech facility in Albany. Cuomo reflected on the economic woes that battered the nation and state since 2008 and said there was no doubt there had been plenty of pain to go around.
"But there is also no doubt, Mr. President, that your leadership has brought this nation through the storm and we thank you," Cuomo told his fellow Democrat.
Cuomo made jobs and the economy part of his "new Democrat" movement in his 2010 campaign.
When Obama took the stage, he and Cuomo embraced and the president returned the praise in his own speech, saying Cuomo has exhibited "extraordinary leadership."
"He is doing outstanding work here in New York," Obama told the crowd.
The brief upstate New York visit has some long-term impact. Cuomo is said to be interested in running for president in 2016. Being close to a president with such foreign relations experience addresses a weak spot for most governors. Cuomo also shows a Democratic executive can forge a fiscally conservative agenda and work closely with Republicans, something with the president has struggled with in Washington.
"This presidential appearance proves by inference what is wrong in Washington, by showing what is right in Albany," said Bruce Gyory, consultant to governors and a political science professor at the University at Albany.
"Gov. Cuomo has a time-tested and honored role in American politics," Gyory said. "As the most popular governor from his party in the country, Cuomo is a prized commodity for President Obama."
The speeches came a day after Obama's campaign released a new ad on the economy, the issue Republicans see as his greatest vulnerability.
The ad says the country is "coming back" after the economic meltdown caused by actions "all before this president took the oath." The ad is running in battleground states, which don't include Democrat-dominated New York.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Obama "spends a lot of time looking backward and blaming others" for his own economic failures.
The trip is Obama's third as president to high-tech sites around Albany that are expected to be part of the nation's future economy. Tuesday he visited the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany, a research and development center, in the heart of the Rust Belt state.
Cuomo is one of the nation's most popular governors and President Bill Clinton's former housing secretary. He also plans to campaign for Obama after saying two weeks ago that he was unsure if he would. That could be a critical way to get Obama to big-money political donors in Manhattan, while Cuomo is counting on a $2 billion loan from the federal government to fund a top priority, replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
"I will support the president however they want me to support the president," Cuomo said Monday. "I want to be as helpful as I can be."