September 21st, 2009
05:50 PM ET
5 years ago

Gibbs: Paterson re-election 'decision that he's going to make'

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs won't confirm or deny a report that President Obama urged embattled New York Gov. David Paterson not to seek a full term.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs won't confirm or deny a report that President Obama urged embattled New York Gov. David Paterson not to seek a full term.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs won't confirm or deny a report that President Obama urged embattled New York Gov. David Paterson not to seek a full term.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One Monday, Gibbs was asked about a New York Times report which said that Obama "sent a request" to Paterson urging him to step aside from the governor's race. Gibbs said Paterson is in a "tough situation" and said ultimately the decision on whether or not he is going to make a bid to keep his job next year is one "that he's going to make."

"Well, look, I think everybody understands the tough jobs that every elected official has right now in addressing many of the problems that we have, and I think people are aware of the tough situation that the governor of New York is in," Gibbs said. "And I wouldn't add a lot to what you've read, except this is a decision that he's going to make."

Gibbs said it isn't new for presidents to get involved in elections around the country, and called it one of the "hazards of the job."


On Sunday, senior White House officials denied the report that Obama had asked Paterson to withdraw. The White House is aware of the governor's political troubles, concern has been expressed through indirect channels - but the decision, they said, lies in Paterson's hands.

While White House officials stressed that Obama has not spoken with the governor directly about the race at all, they acknowledged that aides have conveyed to Paterson's camp that they are aware of his deep political troubles in the Empire State.

"It's not secret that Democrats in New York are very concerned about the situation," said one White House official. "We share those concerns and those concerns have been conveyed in an appropriate way."

But the official added "no one has ordered him out of the race, nor does anyone have the authority to. He has to look at his situation and make the decision that he thinks is right for himself, the party, and the state."

Despite the controversy, Obama gave Paterson a warm welcome when the two met at an event in Troy, New York.

"A wonderful man, the governor of the great state of New York, David Paterson, is in the house," Obama said.

Recent polls show Paterson's approval rating hovering between the 20s and 30s, but the governor said on Sunday that he is still planning on running for a full term in 2010.

–CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry contributed to this report.


Filed under: David Paterson • Popular Posts • President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Luis

    Well I think you need to understand how politics works, and I agree with Otto comments. He is the leader of the Democratic Party.Again New York is strategic place, they can't afford to lose it. Stop thinking and government take-over this is not the case here. This all about politics.

    September 21, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    As the song say "that how rumors get started , started by by jelous people"///// White House officials denied the report that President Obama had asked Paterson to withdraw,White House officials stressed that President Obama has not spoken with the governor directly about the race at all, Stiil hard for people to say or write President Obama.

    September 21, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Seriously a Bush Lover

    I'm going to wait to hear what Glenn Beck says about this so I can have a witty and smart reply to all you Democrats.

    September 21, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Glennis

    Is there anything, anywhere this man won't meddle in? He needs to remember what his own job is and start doing it.

    September 21, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Sam

    David Paterson will run for Congress.
    Idiots like Joe Wilson should be kicked out of Congress, because they are Racists and he Yelled in Congress because:

    1. He could not control his emotions.
    2. It was a Sudden Outburst.
    3. He was Very Upset.
    4. It was Not Intentional and Not Premeditated.

    In Congress we need only Decent and Learned People not Yellers.

    September 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Geoffrey Burton

    Where were all the "tea beggars" when George Bush authorized $10 billion monthly for weapons (Nuclears or Chemical) we haven't found?? Neo-cons are "cracked" out. All talk...no results!!! We don't give a "rats-petunias" about what instructions the president gives to a sitting governor from the same political party. Do you really think you're rattling the cage? Just admit...the insurance company's run the show!!! Rush Limbaugh never finished college and he has poor whites funding his "soap box".......AMERICANS ARE STUPID!!! THE COLONIST LOST THEIR MORAL BEARINGS...WE'RE ON A ONE COURSE NOSE-DIVE.......RICH PEOPLE COTROLLING POOR UNINFORMED IDIOTS!!!

    September 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Meh

    Jeez, did someone let the loonies out of the loony bin or what?! What's with all the weird comments on this story?
    I think it's fair enough that President Obama interjected his opinion into the situation. He IS the head of the Democratic party! And Patterson sucks! Why would they want a lame duck who wasn't even elected?
    O. is NOT over-stepping his bounds.
    This stuff happens all the time!
    He probably told him that he's going to lose (based on his poll ratings, which are down around, what? 23%) if he ran against Guiliani. And I don't think Paterson would want Gulliani to win.. makes sense to me!

    GGG> Fox "news" is a joke. Why would he go on there? Because he likes wasting his time?

    yuri> Hindsight is always 20/20. How could they know what a bad gov. he would be!?

    September 21, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  8. Mike in LR

    BO is a disaster. Everyday it's something else. This guy is a nut case. Narcissist nut case. He's too consumed with his own importance to see he's losing his relevance. His foregin policy, if he has one, is to coddle dictators and apologize for our every move. His domestic policy is unclear and confusing and drowining in a sea of repetitive rhetoric that is meaningless.

    Now he's going to start telling local pols what to do. I mean after all he's so successful at his own job..

    September 21, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. No Hillary = No Obama

    I wonder when the Democratic leadership is going to tell Obama not to run for re-election. The way things are going, it's only a matter of time before there is a reversal of fortune. Hillary are you ready?

    September 21, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Zeb

    Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    September 21, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Mark from Louisiana

    Doesn't the president have other things to worry about than state elections, he has stuck his nose into both New York and Massachutist elections, he could spend his time better by dealing with the economy and record unemployment.

    September 21, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Phat Elvis

    so, Rethugs, you have no leg to stand on when it comes to criticisms of Presidential power and influence. it was your man Bush and his Rasputin-like conciliere Cheney who championed the idea that the Executive Branch wielded unlimited power in a time of war.

    seems to me that what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, but i would have to say nothing Obama is doing now compares to the abuses of power his predecessor commited.

    September 21, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Dean

    What's the problem? If Obama can fire the CEO of General Motors, he surely can take care of the govenor of New York.

    September 21, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. W l Jones

    All these take the Country back from the governmenl freak why not travel from the Canadain border to Key West,Florida stop at every county and state line pay a total before entering come back and say you still wont to take ..government back.Enough said.

    September 21, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. The Czech

    What you liberals see in Obama is a complete mystery to me. I can understand your hatred of conservatives, but this guy is bringing down the whole country. Don't let your bias ruin this great country. Obama is everything that is wrong with politics.

    September 21, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. Hayden

    For the DemocRATS... I can't believe that you're not up in arms over this. The first African American Governor of New York and the first Blind Governor in history being elbowed out of the way by Obama. Obama has shown that he won't let anyone stand in his way for his quest for control. Such a shame. And, here I am thinking that the ultimate decision should have been left to the voters...

    September 21, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. Kent in CA

    President Obama is the head of the Democratic Party. He has a clear interest in driving the party towards continued success. If he sees that a key gubernatorial seat held by the party is at high risk he has every right (and a responsibility) to express his concern about it. It is not be the first time that a sitting president has meddled in state politics, and it won't be the last. They all do it.

    Losing the state house in Albany would be a detriment to the party, and may take down one or two congressional seats with it. If Obama said nothing about that, then he is not doing his job as leader of the party.

    Only Patterson can make this decision, but the president has every right to speak his mind about it, whether on or off the campaign trail.

    September 21, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  18. lf

    If Governor Paterson runs with the low rating perhaps a Republican or Independent will win. This is for the State of NY to address soon. Paterson is free to decide, but how much will Mr. Obama's input will impact him is important. There are a lot of worthy candidates from the NY arena.

    If politics could be neutral, probably never will, and just vote for the most qualified person regardless of party affiliation it may get some dynamic leaders to really govern.

    September 21, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  19. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Obama wants a New York governor who is a more loyal and cooperative puppet. He's probably still upset that Paterson shot-down Caroline Kennedy's move for Hillary's senate seat.

    September 21, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  20. Bob in Pa

    BO needs to butt out ! There is too much greed an corruption in politics today, Dems and Reps both.

    National political forces and special interest groups need to stay out of state and local elections. Likewise, a govenor should only be allowed to raise money from within their own state and Congressmen from their own districts all the way down to local concil members.

    September 21, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. Contrarian

    OK, to all you non-New Yorkers who think Obama should mind his own business, why don't you mind your own business, especially since you don't even live in New York State. I actually live in New York State and am a Democrat. I'd like nothing more than to see Gov Paterson step aside and be replaced by a strong Dem candidate. He seems to have been well-intentioned, but Paterson has been a failure as governor. If Paterson's run prevents stronger Dems from entering and he loses the general election, that would be a disaster. Better for him to drop out now and a stronger Dem take his place. That way we improve our chances of keeping the governor's mansion come Election Day.

    September 21, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. Ryan

    Wow. What a shock. All the people who like Obama side with him on this topic, all the people who don't like him, side against him (and of course take the time to call him evil socialist, dictator, etc.). What a shock. Politics are so broken in this country.

    September 21, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  23. A New York resident

    I would like to respod to Hayden and to Texas Boy and all the rest of you who DO NOT LIVE IN NEW YORK–

    You have no right to tell New Yorkers what we need–if anyone did that your state you would furious–so BUTT OUT of what you don't know anything about!!! I can just imagine if anyone tried to tell Texans what they needed!!!

    THE TRUTH IS:
    Paterson needs a reality check and Obama is trying to give him that so that we can have a real election on real issues. PERIOD!

    September 21, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  24. G'er

    Obama needs to drop the CIA investigation, drop all the Czars, drop the public option of healthcare reform and stop trying to tell people to drop out of re-election races.

    September 21, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. Meka

    It's a great thing . . . A President with a Brain.

    September 21, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
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