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. Right Leaning Independent

    Hail to our Meddler in Chief... Obama has spoken so let the waters part and take Paterson with them.... Everyone knows that the lack of denial means that he absolutely asked Paterson to step aside...

    September 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Tim

    Micro managers are never good leaders.

    September 21, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Voter

    You are so right! What the NYS governor decides to do is definitely HIS business and NOT yours.

    Of course the NYT story was right. Your administration is beginning that your gods and you can decide what NYS voters want better than we can.

    This makes interference event number 3.

    1. Trying to pick OUR next senator. No to Caroline, thanks anyway.
    2. The DNC with your people in charge stole the candidacy from Hillary Clinton, who runs circles around you, with special attention to health care.
    3. Now this. You haven't even set foot in NY until today – over the entire 2 years of campaigning when you should have been at least going through the motions of being of a senator. Exception: big time fund raising – you do know where the money is.

    September 21, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. Just sayin'

    I could understand Obama meddling if he was or ever had been resident of New York, or if he had ever served as governor ... then you could say he has a legitimate interest in its governorship, but since Obama never was a NY resident you can only assume he's simply meddling and has no other interest then having a political ally in the NY governor's mansion. Apparently, Patterson is not a powerful enough political ally to Obama.

    September 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Ren from Baltimore

    Well, there must be no more room at Foxnews for these folks to vent, so they've come on over to the other side to use up our air space.

    Or did Beck send you? We almost forgot about h im; it's been a whole day since he hasn't attack some group or other. Thanks for standing in for him!

    September 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Jonika J

    Obama only wants Paterson to "step aside" because Paterson is black...oh ahh that's what Jimmy Carter said. I think Obama should look in the mirror and ask himself this, "Would Paterson's approval rating be so low if Obama wasn't running the country into the ground?" Obama is making re-election for all Democrates tough!

    September 21, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. david

    call me a conservative Repub, but Obama is doing what he considers to be right for the Demo party (not necessarily good for the people of NY state), which is that if Patterson is the nominee, the party will likely be defeated for the top job in NY in 2010.... so call it self interest from the party point of view.... but you know, obama could use a page or 2 from the LBJ/J Edgar Hoover playbook, such as this:
    "come on governor, you know we have you on wiretap, and i just can't believe you were wanting to have those hookers do some cocaine with you in the hotel on Broadway.... you know Governor, that is what got spitzer in so much trouble... jeez governor, i would just hate for anybody to get their hands on the wiretaps... sure would make you look bad.....but you know, governor, if you retire early, for health and family reasons, well, i think those taps might just get lost.... what do you say, governor,,,"

    September 21, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Mary

    Forget it Obama – this guy will not say "uncle"!! LOL-LOL

    Obama you can not bully everyone!!!

    September 21, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Independent in NY

    Patterson does not stand a prayer in a primary against Andrew Cuomo, current polls hav it at like 15% patterson and 85% cuomo. His running only means spending money on a losing primary, and the dems would rather spend the money in the open election.

    Keep in mind that Patterson was NOT elected, and is a total lame duck.

    September 21, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. Kathy S. Cloughn

    The president is not only the leader of the country but also the party leader.

    September 21, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. turnip

    Some more "Change in the way Washington does business"?

    September 21, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Proud Member..Party of No

    This president gets worse BY THE HOUR. I hope Paterson told him to shove it and mind his own business.

    September 21, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. cora

    I love our President but he need to stop meddling in Paterson's business and let the New Yorkers decide.

    September 21, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Tammany

    What's the big deal here? The highest elected official in a party is acting in the interests of his own party and urging a perceived loser not to run. No doubt he was pressured by his party to do this. It was done discretely, but the news leaks. However, there is no big surprise here and nothing that other presidents of either party haven't done many times before.

    September 21, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. David

    Yes, this is his decision in a state election. Federal govt has no business in state affairs.

    September 21, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Tom L

    The federal government is not supposed to interfere with state issues. This is absolutely ridiculous.

    September 21, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. patNY

    When the high likelihood of Rudy being governor should he run and beat Patterson, whereas Rudy woud lose to Cuomo, becomes apparent, no one should be surprised Obama did what he did...they should be happy! Gov. Rudy Guiliani? Ugh...I just threw up in my mouth saying it!

    September 21, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. JOBLESS IN IOWA

    I love it, Obama is LOSING his control and the Democrates are lost in the Obama Smoke.

    September 21, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. New Age Democrat

    I don't see a problem with the President trying to help his own party in a particular election; however not being able to confirm or deny does not lend itself to an era of transparency. At least he could be honest about it... Very disappointing to say the least.

    September 21, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Jackie in Dallas

    Boy, you guys live in some fantasy world! When President Bush endorsed or supported (or in some cases, didn't support) a candidate for governor, did you raise this big a stink? Nope, because YOU DIDN'T HEAR ABOUT IT. The Bush White House was long on secrets and obfuscation, and short on transparency so you didn't know if President Bush was trying to talk a member of his own party about overall party strategies. Oh, of course, President Bush didn't make those decisions...Cheney did.

    As to what he is doing, how really is it different from the South Carolina Republican party calling for Sanford to resign? President Obama is strictly exercising his freedom of speech - you know, what those semi-automatic carrying rednecks were doing at his speech last month.

    September 21, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. Jacob

    Right, the Meddler in Chief did not insert himself into state politics. PLEASE. They both have one thing in common and that is incomptence beyond belief. Our inept meddler leading the blind Gov.

    September 21, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. John

    Again, another manufactured issue for people to worked up about. If you don't that it is common practice for GOP or DEM leadership, including the President, to "influence" of "Guide" party politicians to seek re-election or stand down, then you're living in some sort of dream world.

    The media is stoking a fire that simply isn't news.

    The right jumps all over this like it's something important.

    Maybe the Right and the Media should concern itself with Governor Sanford?????

    September 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Doug, New Jersey

    New York is sooo lib that Osama Bin Laden would win if he had that little d next to his name, they are blind libs who will support anyone Democrat and they are also so lib that hate rules them so that they feel that Al Queda suicide bombers are better human beings that people from middle America who work hard, pay their taxes, and have never asked another person for a dime. Yeah, don't ever support them again now that you have seen the truth, please dont forget this Obama lesson.

    September 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Brown

    I just love this stuff. People have selective memory. BUSH BUSH BUSH. EIGHT YEARS EIGHT YEARS WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.....Obama has only been in office for 9 months and no matter what he does or what he says it's not good enough. Bush on the other hand was horrible as a President. If you want to keep labeling him as a socialist and labeling a socialist as something bad, then what the previous administration was beyond discription. I'll take my chances with this administration because the last did SQUAT!!!

    September 21, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. T

    I can't believe our President doesn't have better things to do...health care, wars, unemployment?

    September 21, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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