REUTERS - Mario Cuomo, the three-time Democratic governor of New York who turned down several invitations to seek the U.S. presidency, has died at the age of 82.
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The precise circumstances of his death, which came on the day that his son, Andrew Cuomo, delivered inaugural speeches in Manhattan and Buffalo for his own second term as governor, were not clear.
There was no immediate official statement announcing his death, but numerous news organizations reported he had died, citing family sources as having confirmed his passing, and several New York politicians issued statements of condolences.
He was hospitalized on November 30 to treat a heart condition.
Chris Cuomo, of CNN's "New Day," informed the outlet shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday that his father had died at his home, CNN reported. During that time Andrew Cuomo was delivering his second inaugural address at the Erie and Buffalo County Historical Society.
Officials had said earlier the elder Cuomo, a celebrated political orator who was a favorite of the Democratic Party's liberal contingent, was unable to attend the swearing-in proceedings of his son due to poor health.
In his inauguration address on Thursday Andrew Cuomo said he had read his speech to his father the night before.
"He said it was good, especially for a second termer," the younger Cuomo said. "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."
Mario Cuomo was first elected as governor in 1982 and came to national attention two years later when he gave an electrifying keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
Then New York Gov. Mario Cuomo during his keynote address to the opening session of the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, July 17, 1984. AP file photo
The speech came in the middle of the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, who had likened America to a "shining city on a hill."
Cuomo responded by saying, "A shining city is perhaps all the president sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well.
"But there's another city; there's another part to the shining city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate."
His speech defining Republicans as looking out only for the well-off and Democrats as champions of the middle class and the poor propelled Cuomo to the forefront of the party leadership.
After easily winning re-election to a second term as governor, Cuomo was the apparent front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. There were reports of a private plane idling on a runway in New York's capital of Albany to fly him to New Hampshire to file for the nation's first primary.
But the filing deadline came and went, and Cuomo's reputation as a reticent Hamlet-like figure began to grow.
A similar scenario came about in 1992 with Cuomo again the focus of Democratic presidential anticipation. But he said state budget problems needed his attention and declined to run again.