President Donald Trump slammed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., for having a "total meltdown" Wednesday after Cuomo said the U.S. "was never that great" in a dig at the commander-in-chief's 2016 campaign slogan.
"'WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.'" Trump tweeted Wednesday night. "Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!"
Earlier Wednesday, Cuomo, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, was speaking at a bill-signing event in New York City, when he turned his attention to Trump's "Make America Great Again" mantra.
"We not going to Make America Great Again. It was never that great," Cuomo said, prompting some in the audience to laugh and others to gasp.
"We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged," he said. "We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of the population, is gone, and every woman's full potential is realized and unleashed."
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Trump used "Make America Great Again" as his 2016 campaigns slogan — hats bearing the words were ubiquitous at his rallies, and remain so at his political events — and he has used it often as president.
Republicans were quick to slam Cuomo, who is running for a third term this fall, for the remark.
"He should be ashamed of himself," Marc Molinaro, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, said in a statement in which he demanded that Cuomo apologize to the nation.
Later, Trump's campaign weighed in, too, saying in a statement that Cuomo "showed his true, pessimistic colors when he defamed America as a country that was ‘never that great.’"
Following the blowback, Cuomo's office defended his original remarks and criticized Trump's slogan.
"When the President speaks about making America great again — going back in time — he ignores the pain so many endured and that we suffered from slavery, discrimination, segregation, sexism and marginalized women's contributions," Dani Lever, Cuomo's press secretary, said in a statement. "The Governor believes that when everyone is fully included and everyone is contributing to their maximum potential, that is when America will achieve maximum greatness."
Hours later, after Trump tweeted, Cuomo himself responded, tweeting at the president, "What you say would be 'great again' would not be great at all."
"We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK," Cuomo wrote, adding, "Like NY's motto says: Excelsior -- Ever Upward (not backward)."
The back-and-forth came just two days after Trump took aim at him in a speech in Utica, New York, claiming that Cuomo had called him to say that he would never run for president against him.
"He called me and he said, 'I'll never run for president against you.' But maybe he wants to. Oh, please do it. He did say that. Maybe he means it," Trump said on Monday. "Anybody who runs against Trump suffers."
On Tuesday Cuomo hit back against Trump's claim, telling reporters he doesn't have "personal political conversations" with Trump and he's focused on winning re-election, according to The Associated Press.