Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the stage on Friday and called for a round of applause for, among other qualities, Vice President Joe Biden’s smile.
“I knew that he had a great record. I knew that he had a tremendous positive impact on this nation,” Cuomo said. “But I never really noticed that he had a really great smile.”
The comment piggybacked on a quip from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, but was one of many compliment-swaps between the two men at a rally Friday at the McBurney YMCA. The two last joined forces in New York City to push for a $15 minimum wage in the state, a pairing that launched reports that the governor was possibly angling for a spot on Biden’s ticket in the 2016 presidential race. With that possibility off the table (for now), their political bromance continued strong on Friday when the two shared a stage to call on the state legislature to approve an employee-paid 12-week family leave program.
“If I only got to pick one man or one woman that I got to stand with in taking on an opposition that is real and fighting for a cause that is close to my heart, this the guy that I want with me,” Biden said of Cuomo. “The only man or woman that I’ve ever met that I looked at and thought, ‘That person is better than I am at what they do,’ was your dad. Your dad, like you, is an intellectual force but also a moral force. And he shamed the nation into doing a lot of things that he should have done a long time ago. Governor, you have picked up the mantel and exceeded, I think, even your dad’s expectations.”
Cuomo billed the paid leave program as the most aggressive in the nation and a step in the right direction to remedying the disgrace of being one of only three nations in the world that don’t offer paid leave. Both the vice president and governor related the importance of spending final moments with sick relatives to their own experiences with dying family members — Cuomo, his father Mario and Biden, his son Beau.
There is some obvious common ground between the governor and vice president. For one, they are both big-time union supporters — a fact accented by the presence of some boisterous ironworkers in Friday’s crowd. It was Cuomo’s support of unions that recently proved to be a sticking point in 421a negotiations, which fell apart earlier this month. The tax break expired when developer and labor representatives failed to reach an agreement over Cuomo’s prevailing wage requirement, which would have forced those who benefit from the property tax abatement program to pay workers union-level wages. It remains to be seen if this will at all sour Cuomo’s standing with the real estate industry, which has traditionally thrown its support — monetary and otherwise — behind the governor while shying away from City Hall.
The joint conference follows a few public appearances where Cuomo briefly evoked the vice president. During his State of the State address earlier this month, Cuomo again brought up Biden’s comments on LaGuardia Airport resembling a third world country. The vice president came up in a similar vein when the governor first introduced plans to overhaul Penn Station and the Farley Building to the tune of $3 billion.