The panel of "Morning Joe" laughed at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) for his widely panned remarks that America was "never that great" and his ensuing attempts to backpedal Thursday.
Cuomo caused his audience to gasp when he declared, in a dig at President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan, that "we're not going to make America great again. It was never that great." He went on to say inequality between the genders kept the country from achieving greatness. His office eventually released a comment Wednesday to clarify he actually believed America is great but hasn't reached its potential.
Trump slammed him on Twitter for the remark—the president said Cuomo was having a "meltdown"—and by his Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, who called it a poor attempt to appeal to progressives. Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro said he owed the country an apology and should feel "ashamed of himself."
Cuomo hammered back at Trump on Twitter, saying, "We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK."
.@RealDonaldTrump: 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.
Like NY's motto says: Excelsior — Ever Upward (not backward) https://t.co/nrcUrsYJCO
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 16, 2018
MSNBC analyst John Heilemann said it was the tweet of someone whose "skin has been gotten under."
"Governor Cuomo, that was just not a well-formulated tweet," he said.
When fill-in host Willie Geist read out Cuomo's office's statement that he actually believed America is great, the panel laughed.
"Never a good day when you have to come out and explicitly clarify that you believe America's great," Geist said, saying it was ad fodder for Trump and other foes of Cuomo to serve as an "avatar for the left."
"It was certainly a clumsy remark at best," Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire said.
Fellow fill-in host Kasie Hunt wondered if Cuomo's remark was a result of the pressure he feels from his left flank in the form of Nixon. She added Cuomo's tweet glossed over 20th-century accomplishments by the U.S., such as liberating Europe during World War II.