Obama: Mario Cuomo Was 'Unflinching Voice for Tolerance, Inclusiveness, Fairness'

Former three-term New York Gov. Mario Cuomo died Thursday in Manhattan at age 82, the same day that his son Andrew was sworn in for a second term as governor.

Gov. Cuomo’s office said the former governor died “from natural causes due to heart failure this evening at home with his loving family at his side.” This year was his 60th wedding anniversary with his wife, Matilda.

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“We’re missing one family member. My father is not with us today,” Andrew Cuomo said at his inaugural ceremony. “We had hoped that he was going to be able to come; he is at home and he is not well enough to come. We spent last night with him, changed the tradition a little bit. We weren’t in Albany last night; we stayed at my father’s house to ring in the New Year with him. I went through the speech with him. He said it was good, especially for a second-termer. See, my father is a third-termer. But he sends his regards to all of you. He couldn’t be here physically today, my father. But my father is in this room. He is in the heart and mind of every person who is here. He is here and he is here, and his inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what has brought this state to this point.”

Cuomo was a lawyer and professor before being elected governor in 1983. His successor, George Pataki, tweeted that Cuomo was “a proud son of immigrants, possessed of a soaring intellect & a great New Yorker.”

“Our country and our region lost a giant today with the passing of Governor Mario Cuomo,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement. “He was a strong, eloquent leader who loved New York and its people. As an Italian-American, he was also a role model for future generations that anything was possible through hard work and education.”

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“Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. An Italian Catholic kid from Queens, born to immigrant parents, Mario paired his faith in God and faith in America to live a life of public service – and we are all better for it,” President Obama said in a statement. “He rose to be chief executive of the state he loved, a determined champion of progressive values, and an unflinching voice for tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, dignity, and opportunity.”

“His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country’s success rests on the success of all of us, not just a fortunate few.”

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