Washington (CNN) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said America "was never that great" during a speech on Wednesday, drawing criticism from President Donald Trump and the Republican looking to unseat him in November.
Cuomo made the comments in the context of a larger argument about gender equality and women achieving their full potential.
"We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great," Cuomo, a Democrat, remarked at a bill signing event in New York City. The comment was met by an audible reaction from the crowd.
His comments were a response to President Donald Trump's campaign catchphrase -- "Make America Great Again."
"We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged," Cuomo added. "We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping of women, 51% of our population, is gone, and every woman's full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution."
"Governor Cuomo disagrees with the President," said Dani Lever, press secretary for Cuomo, in a statement. "The Governor believes America is great and that her full greatness will be fully realized when every man, woman, and child has full equality. America has not yet reached its maximum potential."
She added, "When the President speaks about making America great again -- going back in time -- he ignores the pain so many endured and that we suffered from slavery, discrimination, segregation, sexism and marginalized women's contributions. The Governor believes that when everyone is fully included and everyone is contributing to their maximum potential, that is when America will achieve maximum greatness."
Late Wednesday night, Trump weighed in on Twitter: " 'WE'RE NOT GONG TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, IT WAS NEVER THAT GREAT.' Can you believe this is the Governor of the Highest Taxed State in the U.S., Andrew Cuomo, having a total meltdown!"
Cuomo faces Democrat Cynthia Nixon in a primary for the gubernatorial seat. His Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, said earlier Wednesday that Cuomo "owes the nation an apology."
"He should be ashamed of himself," Molinaro added.