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NY Gov. Cuomo eulogizes father as a crusader, poet, friend

January 6, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s legacy as a liberal champion and powerful orator was remembered at his funeral Tuesday by one who knew him best — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his son.

“At his core, he was a philosopher. He was a poet. He was an advocate. He was a crusader. Mario Cuomo was the keynote speaker for our better angels,” the younger Cuomo said in a eulogy that spanned his father’s background as the son of Italian immigrants, his biggest speeches and his basketball prowess.

The former three-term governor — who flirted with but never made a presidential run and turned down an opportunity to be nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court — died Thursday, hours after his son was inaugurated for a second term.

Dignitaries including former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mayor Bill de Blasio gathered to mourn the 82-year-old Democratic Party icon and honor his legacy.

Dozens of police officers stood at attention in front of St. Ignatius Loyola Church, and a pipe and drum corps played solemnly as Cuomo’s casket was carried inside. Pallbearers included Cuomo’s younger son, CNN newscaster Chris Cuomo.

On Monday, hundreds waited in a line that stretched more than a block at Cuomo’s wake. Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and actor Alan Alda were among those who paid tribute.

As governor from 1983 to 1994, Cuomo was recognized for his eloquence and for powerful appeals for social justice that blended liberal ideals with his life experience as the son of an Italian immigrant grocer.

He was known for his deliberations over running for president, which earned him the nickname “Hamlet on the Hudson.” He came close to running in 1988 and 1992 but decided not to.

Why? “Because he didn’t want to” and loved being governor, Andrew Cuomo said in a heartfelt speech that mixed political legacy, personal memories of his “pops” and calls to move the state forward in his father’s footsteps.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

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