New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) accidentally reminded fellow Hillary Clinton supporters in Buffalo on Monday that it was unusual for the New York primary to really matter, because normally the Democratic nomination has been wrapped up by its late date.
"Well, we are now coming down to it. It is very exciting, because New York State normally doesn't matter much when it comes to presidential politics," Cuomo said. "Normally, by the time it comes to us, it's over. But we are front and center for the nation in this election, and it is a big responsibility, and what we do now and the message that we send to the country is important."
The remark threw into relief the surprisingly strong challenge mounted by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the Democratic primary. While Clinton entered the race last April with wide name recognition and a huge lead in the polls, Sanders' populist message has resonated with the Democratic Party and turned the race into an increasingly contentious battle.
While Sanders trails Clinton among delegates, he has won seven straight primaries and is effectively tied with her in national polls. In addition, women voters have flocked to Sanders from Clinton, despite the potential for her to become the nation's first woman president.
Cuomo then introduced former president Bill Clinton to the crowd, who made brief remarks encouraging people to work the phone bank for his wife.
While a Clinton surrogate, Cuomo has not always been a staunch defender of his preferred candidate. After Thursday night's Democratic debate, Cuomo failed to defend Clinton's paid Wall Street speeches when pressed by MSNBC, saying the issue reminded him of why he supported public campaign finance laws.