Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul appears to have a change of heart when it comes to Republicans in her state as polls tighten ahead of Tuesday's election.
In August, Hochul lashed out at Republicans at a campaign event, declaring the "era of Trump and Zeldin" was over.
"And we are here to say that the era of Trump, and Zeldin and Molinaro, just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong, OK? Get out of town. Because you do not represent our values," Hochul said. "You are not New Yorkers."
Though Hochul later defended her comments and claimed they were meant for gubernatorial challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and his political allies like former President Donald Trump, Republicans did not see it that way.
During an interview on "The Breakfast Club," Hochul was asked by co-host Charlamagne tha God to respond to a National Review article declaring Democratic leadership "was making NYC unlivable for conservatives," citing a "Republican exodus" from the Empire State.
"How do you plan to keep people in New York?" Charlamagne asked.
"Well, we have to give them the jobs and, you know, people may not want to be here philosophically," Hochul responded. "We do advance people's rights in this state and if that's something that an individual philosophically doesn't support, you know, I hope they will stay. We welcome them to stay and hopefully understand why it's so important for us to have rights for people. And it's been a long journey to get to the rights we have here in the state of New York, whether it's LGBTQ rights, women's rights that are under assault right now. I mean, people want to live in a state where whether or not a woman can decide what to do with her own body is unquestioned. I mean, this is why New York state is even more welcoming. People are starting to want to come here from other states, and we embrace them because that's who we are. We're so fascinatingly diverse. We welcome people from all over, but also we have jobs now that we didn't have before. So I encourage everyone to stay."
"Be honest now, MAGA conservatives can go," Charlamagne said.
Hochul boasted her past GOP outreach when she was first elected to Congress as a Democrat representing "the most Republican district," saying her constituents saw her as "someone who was not defined so much by labels, but as someone who really had a heart that was a fighter."
She also told a story from her time at lieutenant governor when she and her husband took their boat up the Erie Canal and how they docked in one of the "really conservative small towns" and stumbled upon a "Trump Flotilla." She said they left the boat and mingled with Trump supporters about cars and football, adding, "they knew who I was."
"But by the time we were done, they said, ‘Come on back and have a beer with us after you get your dinner,’" Hochul said. "I do believe that we can connect with people in a different way. When you set the election aside on Nov. 9, there will be an opportunity for me to govern for the next four years in an inclusive way that understands there's parts of our state where they feel neglected, overlooked, whether it's, you know, in the boroughs or whether it's upstate, they need to have a leader who will bring people together and not be so divisive. I've already demonstrated I can be that person and that's exactly why I believe those individuals will still want to stay in a state where their children will have a good education, they have a chance of getting a good job and will protect the rights of their family."
Polls tightened in recent weeks, giving Republicans hope they can shock the nation Tuesday by winning in a deep blue state like New York.
In August, Hochul had a 18-point lead over Zeldin. But in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, that gap has shrunk to 6 points.
Zeldin has been heavily campaigning on tackling crime, which has become a top issue facing New York voters. Crime has had a direct impact on Zeldin in recent weeks between him being assaulted at a rally and gun shots that rang out outside his home while his two daughters were inside.
During her "Breakfast Club" appearance, Hochul was grilled on the cashless bail law that critics say is responsible for the surging crime in her state. The governor defended the law, something she suggested brought "equity" to the justice system but stressed that recently passed reform efforts to crack down on repeat offenders hasn't taken effect and that she "needs the whole system to work," saying judges and district attorneys need to "do the right thing."
Charlamagne confronted Hochul on comments made by the mother of Keaira Bennefield, who was allegedly murdered in October by her estranged husband after he was released from jail less than 24 hours prior.
The mother said Hochul "should be charged for the crime. She’s also responsible for the crime."
"All I can say that is a grieving mother," Hochul reacted. "I understand the anguish she's going through. She doesn't understand how this could have happened to her beloved daughter leaving her children — her grandchildren without their mom… The system failed and I will just simply say — I'm not going to argue with the facts with a woman who is in such pain."