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Cuomo Links Kirk, Draft Talk : But Democratic Chief Issues Angry Denial

November 17, 1987|Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said today that Paul Kirk, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, asked him not to rule out a draft for the 1988 presidential nomination.

"Mr. Kirk said, 'Please don't make a Shermanesque,' " Cuomo told a news conference.

He was referring to Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who, responding to an appeal from backers at the GOP convention in 1884, sent the classic telegram saying: "I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected."

At the news conference, Cuomo refused to elaborate on his conversation with Kirk. But he later told a reporter that during a meeting late last month he and Kirk had discussed whether a statement by Cuomo ruling out a draft "makes sense."

"What I said was, 'I want to know the best way I can serve the Democrats,' " Cuomo said.

Kirk Issues Denial

Kirk, expressing irritation at Cuomo's disclosure, denied he discussed a possible draft.

Cuomo opened his news conference by saying he was going to try to focus attention on the six declared candidates for the Democratic nomination.

"I'm not going to discuss myself and the presidency," the Democratic governor said repeatedly as reporters peppered him with questions about it.

Asked why he didn't take himself out of the running for the nomination by simply declaring that he wouldn't accept a draft, Cuomo cited the conversation with Kirk.

Last week, NBC Nightly News broadcast an interview with the governor during which Cuomo said he would accept a draft if, by some "accident," the party made it clear that that was his "obligation."

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