CBSN

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that America "has always been great"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters that he had used an "inartful" expression on Wednesday when he said that America "was never that great."

"I want to be very clear. Of course America is great and of course America has always been great," Cuomo said Friday. 

Cuomo was widely criticized for the comments he made Wednesday, including by the president, who has tweeted about Cuomo's remarks multiple times this week.

"Big pushback on Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York for his really dumb statement about America's lack of greatness. I have already MADE America Great Again, just look at the markets, jobs, military- setting records, and we will do even better. Andrew 'choked' badly, mistake!" Mr. Trump tweeted Friday morning. He later tweeted that the comment by Cuomo were "career threatening."

Cuomo responded to Mr. Trump's tweets by saying that he disagreed with Mr. Trump's definition of greatness.

"What he believes establishes American greatness is not greatness at all," Cuomo said about Mr. Trump. He then listed what he believes are anti-American policies by the president, such as family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cuomo said that Mr. Trump was tweeting about him to distract from news about his former aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, or the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He also addressed rumors that he would run for president in 2020.

"Let me take a deep breath before you goad me with your question," Cuomo said in response to a question from CBS News about Mr. Trump's comments earlier this week taunting the governor to run against him in 2020. 

"I'm running for governor," Cuomo said. "As governor of New York, I believe it's my role to point out and fight this president and fight his agenda."

Cuomo, a Democrat, is currently facing a primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon. The primary will be held on September 13. 

  • Grace Segers

    Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.