ALBANY — President Barack Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday bonded over a vision of economic prosperity for the future, while sharing a rosier view of the current state and national economies.
"This nation, this state went through hard times," Cuomo said as he introduced his fellow Democrat who is seeking a second term. "We felt the pain's depth and the pain lingered ... but there is also no doubt, Mr. President, that your leadership has brought this nation through the storm and we thank you."
In turn, Obama credited Cuomo for his 17 months in office as "excellent work ... Now I want what's happening in Albany to happen all around the country," Obama said.
By most accounts, a slow, sometimes stumbling recovery is under way in New York and nationally and Cuomo and Obama have made creating jobs their priority. But governments, including New York's, have still been running deficits, and both the state and national unemployment rates are still above 8 percent.
"The economy right now is good for some, not so good for others," said Robert Bellafiore, a communications consultant and former press secretary for Republican Gov. George Pataki. "Incumbents are going to focus on how the glass is half full, while challengers will focus on how it's half empty. And they will both say it's the other party that's preventing the glass from overflowing."
Obama and Cuomo on Tuesday matched the rhetoric of Obama's campaign commercial released Monday that says the country is "coming back" after the economic meltdown caused by actions "all before this president took the oath." The ad is running in battleground states, which don't include Democrat-dominated New York.
But Obama and Cuomo focused on what they promised would be a prosperous America, where companies that fled overseas are returning, the imbalance of trade is tipping back to the United States, and the world will appreciate that if American goods aren't the cheapest, they will be the best, like the computer chips made in the Albany facility where the speeches were delivered.
Obama benefited from holding his economy speech alongside the popular Cuomo and his "new Democrat" model of fiscal conservatism, in the face of Republican criticism of Obama's economic record.
"For Obama, he's standing with a highly successful Democratic governor in a region where voters look like those in battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania talking about jobs, high tech jobs, the jobs of the future," said Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. "Cuomo stands with a beleaguered president while other Democrats are distancing themselves ... it can't but help Cuomo in a 2014 re-election campaign or a 2016 presidential run with Democrats generally and African-Americans specifically. Certainly if Obama wins a second term."
Cuomo, 54, from New York City and Obama, 50, from Chicago, treated each other as kindred statesmen in Obama's third visit to the Albany area and second since Cuomo took office. They sit atop Democratic politics nationwide with Obama focused on November and Cuomo, according to many supporters, at least starting to focus on 2016.
Four years ago, Obama made a heavy-handed, almost frat brother shout-out to Cuomo, then the attorney general in the midst of a strong political comeback. Obama gave an almost perfunctory nod to then-Democratic Gov. David Paterson.
On Tuesday, Obama even weighed in on an important and sensitive topic for Cuomo: His father. Earlier in the day, Pataki explained how his administration played the major role in creating the nano science research and development center at the University at Albany as a model for America's economy.
An hour before Obama spoke, Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the longest serving and most powerful of New York politicians, said it all began 15 years ago with a $5 million commitment by his Assembly.
Soon, after, Obama said "a substantial investment" by Gov. Mario Cuomo was the source, a message Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration was hitting hard, too.
"This is a great practice session for Andrew — a look at how it's done for someone who almost certainly will take a serious shot in 2016," said Lawrence Levy, a political commentator and dean of Hofstra University's National Center on Suburban Studies.