Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away due to heart failure Thursday evening, just hours after his son, Andrew Cuomo, delivered a speech at a ceremony kicking off his second term as governor of New York. The elder Cuomo had been hospitalized for heart issues in November, and reports surfaced that he looked frail attending his son's re-election party November 4.
Mario Cuomo, a Democrat, served three terms from 1983 to 1994. He was touted as "a progressive giant," "a soaring intellect," and "a man of unwavering principle" during his time in office and is perhaps best known for a powerful speech he delivered at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, where he spoke passionately and memorably about issues such as poverty and inequality.
President Barack Obama issued a statement following Cuomo's death pointing out that Cuomo, the son of Italian immigrants, was an example of what America is all about -- hard work and lofty goals:
"His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country's success rests on the success of all of us, not just a fortunate few."
Cuomo ran to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988 and 1992 but declined both times. In 1993 he turned down an opportunity to be nominated by President Bill Clinton for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, deciding he would rather stay in politics than make such a switch.
Prominent people in the media and politics took to social media to pay their respects:
Saddened by the passing of Mario Cuomo - a passionate public servant and the embodiment of the American dream. http://t.co/YP6Liuuj2N— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) January 2, 2015
I was lucky to call Mario Cuomo a friend. My heart goes out to the entire Cuomo family during this difficult time http://t.co/5Tqr4oxd0C— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) January 2, 2015
So saddened by Mario Cuomo's death. He was my FIRST guest on Larry King Live & one of the brightest men ever. His was a great American life!— Larry King (@kingsthings) January 2, 2015
Damn shame re passing of fmr NY Gov Mario Cuomo a wonderful man.Condolences to wife Matilda&kids How nice he got to see Andrews 2d inaugural— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) January 2, 2015
RIP Governor Mario Cuomo. One of the greatest progressives this country has ever known. He will be greatly missed...— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) January 2, 2015
So sorry to hear about the death of Mario Cuomo. RIP Governor and heartfelt condolences to the Cuomo family.— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) January 2, 2015
Mario Cuomo was a man of principle & eloquence. He challenged us to make real the American Dream for all! http://t.co/EMUAoSiHhq— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) January 2, 2015
Tonight, New York has lost a giant. Mario Cuomo was a man of unwavering principle who possessed a compassion for humankind without equal.— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) January 2, 2015
Here is his famous speech: