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. yuri

    That seems like a 180 turn from the WH, regarding Paterson's run for Gov., does it not?

    September 21, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Fan of Common Sense

    Obama sees it as his prerogative to go around the country and direct who and who is not to run in state elections. He literally sees the state governors as being mere subordinates or extensions of himself . MY GOSH. THIS GUY'S EGO KNOWS NO LIMITS.

    (But fear not. After the midterm elections next year, I think his ego will be brought down a notch or two.)

    September 21, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Enough

    Please..........Not another Paterson "explanation" coming from Gibbs. Wonder if Gibbs ever gets tired of having to "explain" everything this administrations does, or doesn't do.

    I am sure Obama met with him just to HELP him make the right decision for Obama.

    September 21, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. stormerF

    If Patterson is going to make the decision what is Obama doing,getting involved with state politics in NY?When is Obama going to start Governing and stop Campaigning? Maybe his handlers,the Apollo group,just wants to keep him out of the office,so they can make decisions and pass bills he just signs?..The Stimulis Bill,Or irreversible recession.What a crapola scare tatic,do not read just sign.Barry played along,now it is health care,that is bankrupting our country? what is next the auto insurance companies? Maybe the toilet paper companies,Then the Celebrities Pay,reform bill to bring them in line with the CEO'S.

    September 21, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Freedom

    Lets see the Goverment,

    1.controls the auto industry.
    2.controls the mortage industry.
    3.Fired the CEO of auto company.
    4.controls the banking industry.

    Now their tell a govener not to run for relection. Come one people these people are just as big Lairs as Bush was. Socialist Like obama look at the world different then most americans. Well how is the change going Obama it takes awhile to change american into a soicalist country.

    September 21, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. Farrell in Houston

    George W. Bush always involved in making sure Gov. Rick Perry always won here in Texas and still is, so what's the big fuss about, it's common practice.

    September 21, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Steve (the real one)

    Gibbs will not confirm nor deny the President's message. An honest interpretation means YES! there was a message! Note to DC, the people (remember us?) will decide on the next governor of NY. DC may have their favorite son or daughter but this is a job for THE PEOPLE! Patterson has every right to run, like it or not! Whether he wins or not is up to THE PEOPLE of NY, not DC or anywhere else!

    September 21, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. fs

    Robert Gibbs is correct and President Obama can urge or ask a democrat to stand down if he wants to.

    September 21, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. michael

    If the democrats of New York are so concerned then let someone else run in the primary and beat him.

    September 21, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    In other words, Obama had his thugs do it. The lessons of Chicago style politics (which is the equivalent of mafia poilitics) has not been wasted on their most successful pupil.

    September 21, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. texxas boy

    Just one more thing Obama and the government want to control, state elections. I'll be glad when Obama is voted out and get some Republicans in that care about our country.

    September 21, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Scott, Tucson

    Just more of the Obama transparency you can Believe in.

    September 21, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Bluebonnet

    Obama want to rule everything and everyone. This is the change people voted for? Bull!!

    September 21, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. GGG

    Come on Gibbs... niether you or Obama can give a straight answer on anything. Always dancing around every question!!! CNN start asking the hard questions and demand a straight answer for a change, I guess this is why he will not go on FOX afraid of the questions!!! Maytbe tonight on the Letterman show...what a joke!!! literally!!

    September 21, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Idiot_Pelosi

    What did GIBBS do before this post?

    Did he flip fries at McDonalds?

    September 21, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Fired up yet?

    Get your copy of the Constitution today – tomorrow it may be gone.

    September 21, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. cgillette369

    gibbs, come out of the closet.

    September 21, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Jacob

    I hope he runs for re-election. Gov Patterson is reaching out to the LGBT community in New York state in ways that Obama has not (but promised to!)

    September 21, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Fired up yet?

    Obama didn't speak directly to the Venezuela people either. He had Clinton do it.

    September 21, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. rr

    "neither confirm nor deny" = confirm.

    September 21, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. JEAN - ATL

    I think perhaps the media is again exaggerating what they don't know as a fact. As I have seen the President rise from the Illinois legislature to where he is, I have concluded that he would probably be one of the last people to TELL anyone not to run for any office that they aspired to.

    September 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. DC Insider

    I don't know why anyone cares if Obama endorses or asks politicians to step down. I think that is fully within his rights. I don't think Obama is strong arming Paterson, and at the end of the day it will ultimately be Paterson's call.

    Worse case is that Paterson runs, and loses to a Republican, but honestly, knowing New York, they'd rather slit their thoughts and suffer 2 more years of the same old, same old, then have a Republican as their Governor.

    September 21, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. New York, New York

    Geez, "Who's on first, I don't know's on second...". So many leaks that we need a "Plumber in Chief". Hello Joe, where are you?

    Seriously, if Patterson want's to run, let him run. It' up to the Democratic voters of New York who their candidate is, but I'd wager the Dog Catcher in Westchester County might get more votes at this point.

    September 21, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. Kevin in Ohio

    I think its obvious..... those attacking Patterson for running must surely be racist. Isnt that how it works????

    September 21, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. An Independent

    Sounds like Obama wants to be governor of New York and President...give it a break Barrack and lay low for a while ... too much Obama is bad for the country

    September 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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