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Mario Cuomo, the former three-term New York governor who died Thursday night, rose to national prominence in part because of his electrifying oratory skills. His compelling speeches evoked staunchly progressive ideals at a time when Ronald Reagan conservatism prevailed in much of America.

Perhaps no speech was more memorable than the one he gave at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. It's considered one of the top political speeches of all-time, 20 years before then-Sen. Barack Obama would similarly electrify a DNC audience with his own coming-out speech.

Jon Favreau, President Obama’s former director of speechwriting, said he puts the 1984 Cuomo speech on his top-five list. Keith Boykin, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, called it “one of the best ever delivered.”

Three months before Democratic nominee Walter Mondale suffered a landslide defeat to Reagan in 1984, Cuomo gave Democrats something to cheer about.


"And I ask you now, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, for the good of all of us, for the love of this great nation, for the family of America, for the love of God: Please, make this nation remember how futures are built," he said in the speech.

The speech spelled out Cuomo’s central philosophy as a politician. As he famously told NPR in a 1985 interview, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”


The commemoration of Cuomo’s timeless speech comes at a time when Democrats are again preparing to debate their ideological future ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is considered the purest progressive in the party, while Democrats’ likely presidential frontrunner — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — has been criticized for some centrist positions.

Watch an eight-minute excerpt of his keynote address below:

Here’s the full text of the speech, as transcribed by American Rhetoric.

Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.