Will Andrew Cuomo run for president, his brother asks? 'No. No'

Martin Pengelly in New York
Photograph: Getty Images

As he navigates the coronavirus crisis in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the subject of increasingly excited talk about a late run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But on Monday night, after a day in which cases and deaths in the state rose steeply and a massive US Navy hospital ship arrived in New York City harbour, he had a simple answer for his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

Will he run?

No. No.

Not that the governor’s brother was prepared to take no answer for an answer – however many times, or however bluntly, it was offered.

Chris Cuomo, 49, referred to comments from Donald Trump earlier in the day, when the president was asked during an uproarious Fox & Friends interview if he thought Andrew Cuomo, 62, should have a go at depriving Joe Biden, the probable Democratic nominee, of his shot at the White House.

“So he weaponizes it,” the younger Cuomo said, “and says, ‘You know what he should do, he should run for president, this guy, Cuomo. He’d be better than Biden, this guy Cuomo. But I’d beat him, too.’”

“Let me ask you something. With all of this adulation that you’re getting for doing your job, are you thinking about running for president? Tell the audience.”

No,” said Governor Cuomo. “No.”

Then the two Italian American brothers indulged their developing habit of bickering endearingly on prime time TV:

Chris Cuomo: No, you won’t answer?

Andrew Cuomo: No. I answered. The answer is no.

Chris Cuomo: No, you’re not thinking about it?

Andrew Cuomo: I answered the question, sometimes it’s one word. I said no.

Chris Cuomo: Have you thought about it?

Andrew Cuomo: No.

Chris Cuomo: Are you open to thinking about it?

Andrew Cuomo: No.

Chris Cuomo: Might you think about it at some point?

Andrew Cuomo: No. No.

Chris Cuomo: No, you won’t answer?

Andrew Cuomo: No, I answered. The answer is no. No is sometimes one word. I said no.

Chris Cuomo: Have you thought about it?

Andrew Cuomo: No.

Chris Cuomo: Are you open to thinking about it?

Andrew Cuomo: No.

Chris Cuomo: Might you think about it at some point?

Andrew Cuomo: No.

Chris Cuomo: How can you know what you might think about at some point right now?

Andrew Cuomo: Because I know what I might think about and what I won’t think about. I won’t think about it. But you’re a great interviewer by the way.

Chris Cuomo: Appreciate it. Learned from the best.

The governor also offered praise for Biden, who he said was “a great public servant” and “a guy who does the job for real Americans”.

The brothers discussed Trump’s apparent insinuation that New York hospitals and emergency staff are stealing protective equipment, although the governor refused to be drawn into criticising the president, insisting he did not know what Trump had meant by the comment.

Andrew Cuomo also delivered a sobering message for New Yorkers stuck, like his brother, at home, unsure of how long the crisis will last.

“The apex is anywhere from six days to 21 days away, depending on who you listen to,” he said.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, New York has around 67,000 of 164,000 Covid-19 cases confirmed in the US, and around 1,300 of 3,161 deaths. Federal public health experts have said the US could see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths.

“The apex can either be one and a half times the capacity of the hospital system, or three times the capacity of the hospital system,” Cuomo said, “depending on which projection you reach. I want to prepare for that apex because this virus has been ahead of us every step of the way.”

On Sunday, Cuomo told viewers of his daily press conference to “seek joy” in their forcibly proscribed lives, possibly through family ritual. At the close of the interview, the younger Cuomo tried to one-up his brother by describing how their mother only taught him how to make her special pasta sauce.

“You’ve always been good at manipulation,” the older Cuomo shot back. “You’ve always been the meatball of the family.

“Look, some of us have to work, right? I don’t have the luxury of working one hour a day, right? I’m happy for you, God bless you. But most of us work more than one hour a day, that’s all I’m saying.

“I have to do my job and momma didn’t raise an armchair general in me, anyway. I’m not going to sit in my basement … I love you, be safe, call me sometime.”

“I’ll send you some sauce,” Chris Cuomo said.

“Love you, brother.” said Andrew. “Meatball.”

“It’s a term of endearment in Italian circles,” Chris Cuomo said, adding to his unseen producers: “Please hang up on him now. He has a lot of work to do.”

On Tuesday, CNN announced that Chris Cuomo had tested positive for coronavirus. He said he would continue to broadcast daily, from isolation in his basement.

In Albany, Andrew Cuomo told reporters his brother was “young, in good shape, strong, not as strong as he thinks, but he will be fine”.

“He’s a really sweet, beautiful guy,” the governor said. “And he’s my best friend.”