- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo yesterday accused President Bush of starting a class war in 2001 and continuing that war by promoting more tax relief this year.
Mr. Bush and other Republicans have said Democrats are waging "class warfare" by claiming the president's tax cuts favor the rich.
"Class warfare he calls it," Mr. Cuomo said. "The president [is] right. It is class warfare, but he declared the war. He declared it in 2001."
"He said we are going to give all the money to the richest people, and so he was commander and chief of the richest corporations, the richest people, and he says, 'Now, I declare war on all the rest of you,'" Mr. Cuomo said.
Democrats didn't start the war but are "just defending ourselves against [Mr. Bushs] attack," he said in a speech at the National Press Club.
Mr. Cuomo was tagged as the "Hamlet on the Hudson" after he disappointed supporters by abruptly announcing in February 1987 that he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination after having agonized over that prospect for months.
Yesterday, he said he would not consider running in 2004 but urged Florida Sen. Bob Graham, outgoing chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, especially if the party were looking for a Southerner. The last three successful Democratic presidential candidates were from the South.
Mr. Cuomo, who remains a respected figure in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, also singled out former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as a good candidate for the 2004 nomination.
In an interview before his speech, Mr. Cuomo expressed doubt that New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the best Democrat to challenge Mr. Bush in 2004.
Some Democrats see a liberal affinity between him and Mrs. Clinton, but Mr. Cuomo denied any such relationship and took the opportunity to criticize Mrs. Clinton's husband, the former president. "I was very much irritated by the statement [President Clinton] made after the collapse of the [Clinton] health care plan [in 1994], where he said, 'The era of big government is over.'"
"I thought that was one of the most dangerous and destructive statements a president could make," he said. "It was utterly absurd, unless you are gong to take down Medicare, Medicaid, defense, the space program."
Mr. Cuomo said he is comfortable with all the Democrats who have declared so far North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt and Mr. Dean.
During a question-and-answer session after his speech, Mr. Cuomo, himself a former radio talk-show host, said Democrats don't need or want a liberal version of Rush Limbaugh. He argued that Democratic candidates won the popular vote in the last three presidential elections, "so we are the majority and we don't need a Limbaugh."
On MSNBC's "Donahue" show Monday night, Mr. Cuomo infuriated some conservatives by saying the reason Democrats don't have successful talk-show hosts like Mr. Limbaugh is that Democrats "believe in subtlety. We believe in telling the whole truth."
He said Limbaugh-type conservatives "write their message with crayons. We use fine-point quills."
Asked why Democrats fared so poorly in November, Mr. Cuomo echoed criticisms of dozens of other prominent Democrats. "They virtually ceded to the Republicans the issues of terrorism and Iraq and did not make a vigorous enough case on the domestic issues, especially the economy and the president's tax-cut plan," he said.

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