US & Canada

Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo dies

Mario Cuomo (file photo) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Cuomo will be remembered for his powerful oratory and for his tortuous deliberations over whether to run for the White House

Three-time Democratic Governor of New York Mario Cuomo has died just hours after his son Andrew was inaugurated for a second term as governor, his family says.

Mr Cuomo, 82, refused a number of proposals to seek the US presidency during the course of a long career.

He died of heart failure at his home.

The New York Times described him as a "liberal beacon" who "commanded the attention of the country with a compelling public presence".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Cuomo's son Andrew paid a glowing tribute to his father while being inaugurated for a second time as governor
Image copyright AP
Image caption For many years Mr Cuomo was the darling of the Democratic party

It said that he will be remembered for his "exhaustive ruminations about whether to run for president".

He was urged by the Democrats twice to run for the White House - in 1988 and 1992 - but on each occasion rejected their overtures.

Mr Cuomo, a renowned political orator, led New York during volatile times from 1983 to 1994 and many of his ambitious plans for the state were stifled by recession and cash shortages.

Mr Cuomo did not attend his son's inauguration speech on Thursday because he was not well - however the current governor used the occasion to honour his father.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Cuomo never wavered in his liberal views even when they became more unpopular towards the end of his career

"He is in the heart and mind of every person who is here," Andrew Cuomo said.

"He is here and his inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what has brought this state to this point, so let's give him a round of applause.''

Mario Cuomo's moved in public prominence in 1982 when he won the Democratic nomination for governor of New York, beating Ed Koch, the mayor of New York City. He then went on to defeat conservative millionaire Republican Lewis Lehrman.

His reputation for powerful oratory began at the 1984 Democratic National Convention when he delivered his "Tale of Two Cities" keynote address, in which he contrasted wealthy New York with its poorer areas.

Correspondents say that the son of Italian immigrants and avid baseball fan was an unusually deep-thinking politician whose eloquence was often matched by his prickliness.

"I didn't come into this business to be bland," he said.

He won two more terms as governor in 1986 and 1990, and frequently vetoed legislation that would have restored the death penalty in New York.