Four things we learned about Mario Cuomo from Chris Cuomo

You know him as the face of CNN's morning lineup and Chris Cuomo, co-anchor of "New Day," credits his fight for a "go...

Posted: Mar 24, 2018 12:21 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2018 12:21 PM

You know him as the face of CNN's morning lineup and Chris Cuomo, co-anchor of "New Day," credits his fight for a "good argument" from his family.

Cuomo, the son of former New York governor, Mario Cuomo, and the brother of Andrew Cuomo, the current governor, spent much of his childhood moderating "really hot and heavy discussions" at the dinner table.

"It was great training for what I do now," Cuomo told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from The University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

In the interview, Cuomo, 47, opened up about his relationship with his father, and how his upbringing in the shadows of politics shaped his career.

"I didn't know how much of who I am and what matters to me was tied to Pop, how reliant I was on him until he was gone," Cuomo said.

Here are four things we learned about Mario Cuomo from Chris Cuomo:

1. He embraced an underdog mentality

As the son of Italian immigrants, Mario Cuomo, a first-generation American who grew up in Queens behind his family-run grocery store, was always worried about "not being good enough."

"He was fired up by that, you know, that was his motivation. He was very much devoted to a feeling of being an underdog and less than, and he had contempt for people who thought he was less than," Cuomo said.

The elder Cuomo lost his first few runs for public office in the 1970s, including a race for mayor of New York City in 1977.

"He was a fighter. He was an underdog and he believed in attacking the powerful. And that's really all you needed to know and you just have to understand how dedicated and active an opponent he would be," Chris Cuomo said.

Mario Cuomo's big political break came in 1982 when, as New York's lieutenant governor, he won the Democratic nomination for Governor in an upset over New York Mayor Ed Koch. He went on to beat conservative millionaire Republican Lewis Lehrman.

2. He did not want to be president

Mario Cuomo's keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention speech brought him to national attention, and he was widely considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in both 1988 and 1992, but he declined to seek the nomination in both instances.

"Pop did not believe he should be President of the United States," Cuomo said, "He made a very tortured argument about how 'I'm Governor and I can't do this job and that job at the same time,' but there was a facility to that argument that really betrayed the fact that the two things don't come together."

Cuomo said "maybe" his father's immigrant mentality played a role in his decision to say no, but in the end, his father felt he was not a right fit for that level of office.

"It wasn't because he was Governor, it was because he didn't think he was good enough," Cuomo said.

3. He loved the law more than politics

Mario Cuomo was also offered a seat to serve on the Supreme Court twice by President Bill Clinton but turned them both down.

"He loved the law a lot more than politics," Cuomo told Axelrod, "His argument on that was you're only one of nine, you don't really get to lead as much and 'I could never speak about politics again and the way I want to,' and that was that."

Cuomo revealed his father did give some serious thought to wanting to be on the Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York State.

4. It was hard for him to get over his 1994 loss

Cuomo was defeated for a fourth term as governor by George Pataki in 1994, and subsequently retired from politics following that defeat.

"He lost in a race that he knew he was going to lose, that he knew he shouldn't have run," Cuomo told Axelrod.

Cuomo acknowledged it took his father a while to get over the loss.

"It was devastating to him, that kind of rejection, where it mattered to him so much and he felt that that was his value in life," Cuomo said.

NOTE: Chris Cuomo is set to take over CNN's 9pmET primetime slot on weeknights in the coming weeks.

Terre Haute
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
Robinson
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 76°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 80°
Rockville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Casey
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 80°
Brazil
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
Marshall
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
July Heat Continues
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 144013

Reported Deaths: 6951
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook909114581
Lake9752418
DuPage9083472
Kane7733271
Will6744320
Winnebago304695
McHenry206197
St. Clair1906136
Kankakee128565
Kendall96320
Madison94769
Rock Island94729
Champaign88012
Boone59521
DeKalb55818
Peoria49928
Sangamon43132
Jackson33219
Randolph2877
Stephenson2745
McLean26113
Ogle2614
Clinton23717
Macon23122
LaSalle21917
Union19119
Whiteside19115
Coles17017
Grundy1674
Iroquois1575
Warren1380
Tazewell1378
Knox1320
Cass1302
Morgan1283
Monroe12713
Williamson1204
Jefferson10717
McDonough10115
Lee972
Adams931
Henry881
Pulaski760
Marion660
Vermilion662
Perry541
Douglas520
Macoupin523
Unassigned500
Jasper467
Livingston452
Jo Daviess441
Montgomery441
Christian434
Jersey351
Ford331
Woodford332
Bureau292
Menard250
Fayette233
Alexander220
Franklin220
Mason220
Wabash220
Carroll212
Johnson200
Mercer200
Piatt200
Washington200
Hancock191
Crawford180
Moultrie180
Shelby181
Fulton150
Logan150
Clark140
Wayne141
Bond131
Massac130
Schuyler130
Cumberland120
Effingham121
Brown100
Edgar100
Greene90
Saline90
Henderson80
Marshall80
Lawrence70
De Witt60
Hamilton50
White50
Richland40
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Pike20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Out of IL10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 45952

Reported Deaths: 2650
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11387679
Lake4872240
Elkhart308543
Allen2677114
St. Joseph184965
Cass16369
Hamilton1484100
Hendricks136699
Johnson1235118
Porter68537
Madison64363
Tippecanoe6408
Clark62244
Bartholomew57844
Howard54356
LaPorte53925
Kosciusko4952
LaGrange4596
Jackson4553
Noble44728
Vanderburgh4306
Hancock42935
Delaware42648
Boone42242
Shelby41625
Marshall4123
Floyd36344
Morgan32031
Montgomery28720
Grant28526
Clinton2792
Dubois2606
White25810
Monroe25628
Decatur24632
Henry23515
Lawrence23124
Vigo2248
Harrison20822
Dearborn20422
Warrick20129
Greene18431
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1547
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1286
Franklin1248
Steuben1232
Perry1209
Ripley1127
Carroll1092
Jasper1092
Wabash1072
Fayette967
Newton9510
Whitley814
Randolph764
Starke733
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson651
Washington641
Pulaski631
Knox620
Clay594
Rush573
Benton480
Adams451
Owen451
Gibson442
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey350
Spencer311
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland250
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0194