12/11/2012 03:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Cuomo Dismisses Criticism That Senate Leadership Coalition Has One Minority; Deflects Hillary Clinton 2016 Questions

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Monday tried to deflect questions about whether he would support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in 2016.

He also waved off criticism by black leaders of a State Senate leadership coalition that contains only one minority.

Cuomo said in a radio interview that "there is no doubt" Clinton, the departing U.S. Secretary of State, is "incredibly popular. She has great experience. There's going to be all sorts of speculation about her political future. She's the person who's going to make the decision."

Asked if he would commit to backing Clinton, Cuomo said of 2016: "Oh, it's a long way away."

Cuomo, who served in President Bill Clinton's cabinet, also has been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate, although analysts have said he would not likely jump in if Hillary Clinton wants to run.

A recent survey found that New Yorkers would prefer to see Clinton run rather than the governor. The Siena College poll found that 54 percent of residents want Clinton to run, while 39 percent were opposed.

The same wasn't true of Cuomo: 39 percent said he should run, 49 percent said no.Also in the interview, Cuomo tried to turn aside complaints voiced at a protest last weekend where black Democrats bashed him for tacitly supporting an alliance of Republicans and renegade Democrats to lead the State Senate.

Announced last week, the coalition of 30 Republicans and six Democrats features only one minority, Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica). In contrast, 14 of the 27 mainline Democrats are black or Hispanic.

The protesters said the coalition deprives minorities of a prominent role in state lawmaking. The New York Times quoted Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) as saying: "Ask Governor Cuomo: Where does he stand on backroom deals putting us in the back of the bus?"

Cuomo didn't directly address the criticism.

"Let's just say the Senate has had a long tradition and flair for the dramatic, both in statements and action," Cuomo said on WGDJ-AM. "A governor's job is not to involve himself or herself in the internal power dynamic or leadership of the legislature." But he also cast blame for the split that led to the coalition Democrats rather than Republicans who sought to stay in power despite not winning a majority of Senate seats in November.

"This is not really about Republicans," Cuomo said. "This is a schism among Democrats.