Mario Cuomo hems and haws about a White House bid until the bitter end.

The Presidential Candidate Who Wasn’t

The Presidential Candidate Who Wasn’t

Bite-sized stories from presidential campaign history.
Oct. 28 2015 11:04 AM

Waiting for Mario

The nail-biting story of the maybe-candidate with “no plans to make plans” … until the bitter end.


Listen to Episode 19 of Whistlestop:


Whistlestop is Slate’s podcast about presidential campaign history. Hosted by our political correspondent and Political Gabfest panelist John Dickerson, each installment revisits a memorable (or even a forgotten) moment from America’s quadrennial carnival.

On December 20, 1991, a plane sat waiting on the Albany tarmac to whisk New York’s governor to New Hampshire so that he could officially kick off his White House bid. Instead, Gov. Mario Cuomo announced that he would not be entering the presidential race. It was the final act of an epic waiting game for Candidate Cuomo that stretched all the way back to the early 1980s.

To run or not to run—that is the question running through this episode of Whistlestop. Dickerson recounts the blow-by-blow of Cuomo’s agonizingly long and drawn-out decision-making process and reflects on its impact on the 1992 presidential contest.

Whistlestop is sponsored by The Great Courses, now offering the lecture series The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas. Order from eight of their best-selling courses at up to 80 percent off the original price by visiting

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Podcast production by Tony Field.

John Dickerson is a co-anchor of CBS This Morning, co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest, host of the Whistlestop podcast, and author of Whistlestop and On Her Trail.