Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

“THE SHINING CITY ON A HILL”:
AMERICA’S GREATEST ORATOR …
TWENTY YEARS LATER

Many people remember with great vividness the brilliant
speech that Governor Mario Cuomo delivered at the
Democratic National Convention in 1984. On July 26, 2004,
the twentieth anniversary of that keynote address, we
asked Governor Cuomo about that speech, and about what
has transpired in America since then.

WILLIAM O’SHAUGHNESSY (W.O.): The political season is here, and the national party conventions are upon us. The Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy is meeting in the historic city of Boston. It’s surely a busy place with hopeful Democrats gathering from all over the country. But let’s switch now to New York City, and one of the most respected and revered Democrats of our time, the former governor of New York, Mario Cuomo. Governor, remember when you stood in the spotlight and gave that keynote in 1984?

GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO (M.C.): I do remember, Bill. This is the twentieth anniversary.

W.O.: Were you nervous standing there? Do you remember that now-historic speech?

M.C.: I remember it extremely well. And I wasn’t nervous because I resigned myself to utter failure! The speech wasn’t something I wanted to do. As a matter of fact, I told Walter Mondale to get Ted Kennedy. And I had spoken to Kennedy about it, and he was willing to do it, but Mondale didn’t want Kennedy. And when he asked me, I was shocked, and so was Tim Russert, who worked for me at the time, and my son Andrew. All three of us thought it was a bad idea. I resisted, but Fritz Mondale insisted.

And when we came to the podium, nobody appeared to be paying any attention, including John Forsythe, the actor; [former] President Carter; and even Ed Koch, the mayor of New York

-135-

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