NEW YORK STATE -- In times of disaster, politicians have to appear confident and collected but avoid political squabbles. As the New York City area begins to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to tread that line carefully, especially when it comes to the issue of climate change.
Cuomo said, “Climate change is a controversial subject, right? People will debate whether or not there is climate change, whether or not it's a cycle, whether or not it's a cycle, that's a whole political debate I don't want to get into. I want to talk about the frequency of extreme weather conditions, which is not political.”
Still, the Democratic governor doesn't deny the phenomenon is real, even if he wouldn't pin it on human activity.
“Climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality,” said Cuomo.
Hurricane Sandy slammed in to the East coast in the midst of a highly charged political season. Election Day is less than a week away, putting campaigns at all levels in limbo as the media attention turns to the recovery. Still, those facing re-election still get their time on camera, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who took a veiled swipe at Republicans at the same news conference.
“When you have those in Washington who are arguing a cuts only approach, cutting FEMA, cutting money for families, I think that's the wrong set of priorities,” Gillibrand said.
Cuomo, who normally shies away from the national media spotlight, made his first appearances on two major broadcast networks Tuesday night to discuss storm damage. His top aide says it wasn't about the governor, but about helping New York.
“The first time the governor goes on national TV, it was for the people of New York State, it wasn't for him,” said Larry Schwartz, Secretary to the Governor.
And sometimes it just helps to show you're willing to work with a potential rival on a common goal, like storm recovery. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, rumored to be a possible 2014 candidate for governor, praised Cuomo at today's news conference.
Astorino said, “Warm gratitude personally and from the county to the governor for his leadership during this time, both for his accessibility and his cooperation.”
That dynamic played out to a degree on the national stage, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a vocal Mitt Romney surrogate, praising President Obama's handling of the recovery so far.