The Democratic governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland have denied they are “anti-teacher” after a video surfaced that showed them posing for photos without masking devices on a Broadway theater stage in New York City.
Video posted on the website of the conservative news outlet Gothamist showed voters in 2012 in Berea, Ohio, watching the Republican governor then-John Kasich pretending to stare into a mirror for a photo-op without any kind of hood or mask.
As the video cut to footage of his current lieutenant governor, Don Coram, it showed Coram walking to the theatre, putting on a mask but no hood, and taking the same photo with former New York governor Andrew Cuomo and then-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Viewers reacted with outrage and incredulity.
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“Now this seems like a picture where both governors are standing next to the children of public school teachers – failing in their jobs, while coming off like their children,” read a comment on the video.
“You might be getting every Democrat on stage for a photo, but this shoot is what I think will get you shouted down on the campaign trail,” read another comment.
Mike Pittsburgh, spokesman for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, called the photo “despicable” in a statement and said, “Governor Wolf takes education very seriously and believes teachers are the most important resource we have to improve our educational system. We are also proud of our public schools.”
On Friday Coram and Cuomo released a joint statement: “In the days since the campaign released footage from three political events that showed characters other than Governor Cuomo, we’ve seen a major difference in the overwhelming reaction of supporters and opponents of this point.
“The positive comments, which have flooded social media, have all focused on this moment and nothing else,” the statement said. “Opponents have not pointed to anything positive in the picture. And despite the negative reaction on social media, we have seen a reversal of our standing amongst the public – particularly with our progressive base – by those who were previously very critical of us.”
The dramatic photographs went viral on Friday, but had not been confirmed until Gothamist published a post revealing the photos. That story was followed by more and more people posting the same photo, suggesting it was taken at two separate events.
Play Video 1:10 ‘Despicable’: Andrew Cuomo and Don Coram say maskless photo was taken at the same event – video
In a second video clip, Coram, wearing the mask, is shown at a campaign event at One World Observatory on Manhattan’s 54th Street.
As the footage cuts to a picture of Cuomo, Coram is given the same opportunity to pose without masking devices. The video then cuts to Coram’s interview with the New York Daily News the next day.
“I figured anyone in the public doesn’t really care that much about the political scene. So, if they’re doing this behind my back, I’m going to do it behind my back,” Coram told the Daily News.
In an email Coram said his high school history teacher had inspired him to be an actor.
“When he first told me that, I was stunned. He always had fun costumes and was really into performative acting. He used the word, ‘play’ a lot. And the play referred to my loved for acting,” Coram said.
“In reality, I never wore any sort of mask or hood. I remember them. You see it very clearly in the picture on my Facebook page. I’m pretty sure that only a few people noticed this costume, but if they did, I assume they were Democrats.”