Cuomo: America 'was never that great'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said at an event on Wednesday that America "was never that great," drawing an audible response from the crowd.

Cuomo made the comments in reference to President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE's popular "make America great again" slogan. 

"We’re not gonna make America great again," Cuomo said at the event, where he signed anti sex-trafficking bills into law. "It was never that great." 

"We have not reached greatness," he continued. "We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged."

"We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of our population, is gone," he said. "And every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution. When that happens, this nation is going to be taken even higher." 

Cuomo's comments were quickly met with pushback by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Marc Molinaro. 

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"America, with its imperfections, has always been great," Molinaro said in a statement. "Our people, our principles, and our promises have been a beacon light to the world for 242 years and counting." 

"Mr. Cuomo owes the nation an apology," Molinaro continued. "He should be ashamed of himself."

Cuomo's office sought to clarify his comments in a statement later Wednesday afternoon. 

“The Governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality. America has not yet reached its maximum potential,” press secretary Dani Lever said.

"When the President speaks about making America great again — going back in time — he ignores the pain so many endured and that we suffered from slavery, discrimination, segregation, sexism and marginalized women's contributions.”

Cuomo has long been an outspoken critic of the president and often makes public remarks criticizing the White House. Amid a primary with Cynthia Nixon, an activist and former television star, Cuomo has consistently framed himself as an anti-Trump Democrat fighting for the future of the party.  

Cuomo led Nixon 2-to-1 in a recent poll of likely Democratic primary voters.  

—Updated at 4:32 p.m.