Holocaust survivor denounces Cuomo: ‘America is great’

NEW YORK — Republican gubernatorial hopeful Marc Molinaro and an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor joined arms on Monday to denounce Governor Andrew Cuomo’ recent comments that America “was never that great.”

“I really think that America is great. As far as I am concerned, America was great even before I came here, and we don’t want to give that up,“ Jerry Wartski, a Manhattan real estate investor and a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, told reporters on the steps of City Hall in lower Manhattan on Monday morning.

“America has always been great because of faces like those that stand behind me this morning,” Molinaro said at the press conference. “Mr. Wartski, as a very young boy, survived Auschwitz. I think he understands truly the remarkable, remarkable promise and the unyielding character of the American people.”

Molinaro insisted that he was not exploiting the Holocaust to score political points. Wartski, according to Molinaro, reached out to the campaign and offered to speak out against the incumbent governor. “I think that any individual who has lived through that horror, who wishes to speak up because his governor would demean what this nation means to him, it’s certainly his right,” Molinaro told Jewish Insider.

Cuomo, facing criticism from President Donald Trump and New York Republicans, walked back his comments on Friday, saying his comments were “inartful.”

“I want to be very clear,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters on Friday. “Of course America is great and of course America has always been great.”

Speaking at a Brooklyn Church on Sunday, Cuomo assailed President Trump for enabling hate and discrimination. “The white supremacists, when they showed up to a rally in Charlottesville, they didn’t even bother wearing a hood. They were so bold that they didn’t have to cover their face because they were accepted and they felt empowered by this President,” Cuomo said. “And what did he say after the rally and the counter-rally? He said, ‘Well there are good people on both sides of the issue.’ Mr. Trump is the great divider-in-chief for this nation. And I have news for Mr. Trump: there are no good white supremacists or KKK members.”

Asked if he agrees with Cuomo’s criticism of Trump, Molinaro sidestepped. “This Governor wants nothing more than to make this entire election, and in fact, his entire eight years about anything other than the corruption, the high cost of living, the dysfunction and incompetence that New York City residents see every day on subways and in pier lots,” Molinaro stated. “He wants to talk about anything else, but let me say this clearly: if Marc Molinaro is Governor of the state of New York there is no tolerance for hatred. There is no acceptance of those who dismiss, demean, or hurt others.”

The Cuomo campaign dismissed the criticism as a desperate move. “New Yorkers have already rejected one Donald Trump – and they won’t be fooled by Trump mini-me Marc Molinaro and his problems with the truth,” Cuomo’s campaign spokeswoman Abbey Fashouer told Jewish Insider in an emailed statement. “These false, desperate attacks speak volumes about the sad state of his campaign.”

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