NEW YORK — Beyond sharing the same party affiliation as most of New York's top leaders, Joe Biden’s presidency may be even more consequential to New York because of his relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I've know him many, many years,” said Cuomo. "He has been a great friend to me personally. And I’ve tried to be a good friend to him."
Cuomo was quick to invoke his relationship with President Biden shortly after the inauguration Wednesday. Three years ago, Biden was a keynote speaker at the State Democratic Convention nominating Cuomo for a third term.
“We can do anything. There is a time to get these guys out of our way," said Biden. "It’s time to lead and it’s time to say, no more. We are moving on!”
Biden and Cuomo have been friends since Cuomo served in President Clinton’s cabinet more than 20 years ago as Housing Secretary. After Cuomo became governor, he and Biden would often hold events together focusing on infrastructure.
But it was this comment from Biden in early 2014 that set the stage for a major local redevelopment project:
“If I blindfolded someone and took him at 2 o'clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, 'Where do you think you are?' He says, 'This must be America, this is a modern airport,'" Biden said in February 2014. "If I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, 'I must be in some third-world country.' I’m not joking.”
Several months later, after Cuomo made multiple references to those remarks, they were on track to unveil a new plan to rebuild LaGuardia Airport in Queens.
“Governor, these ideas are as big and as bold as you are. And it takes boldness. This is not something that can be done in incremental little bites," Biden said in October 2014.
The $8 billion revamped LaGuardia Airport project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Cuomo often went straight to Biden for New York’s needs when he served as vice president under Barack Obama.
But when Obama was set to leave office, that’s when Cuomo took on a new role in Biden’s life. It was shortly after the death of his son, Beau. Democrats were urging Biden not to run for president in 2016, in part because he was greiveing from the loss, and also because many Democrats wanted to clear the primary field for Hillary Clinton.
It was Cuomo who told Biden not to listen to them, and to arrive at his own decision.
Biden ended up bowing out, something he came to regret. But when it came time for Biden to consider a run in 2020, Cuomo was one of his biggest boosters.
“My two cents? I think of all the names that are out there, I think Joe Biden has the best case,” Cuomo said in January 2019 on WAMC Radio's The Roundtable With Alan Chartock. "I think Joe Biden has the best case because he brings the secret ingredient you need to win for a Democrat, which is credibility."
So, will that relationship stand the test of time now that Biden is president? It’s a challenging period for the state, which is looking to Washington for critical aid and enough COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate a population of 19 million New Yorkers.
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