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. Jerry in Florida

    Wow!!! Now President (King?) NObama is ordering his Black constituents as to whether they can run for elective office or not. I know some Blacks are really disenchanted with the President, but at the same time, are afraid to express their views. This latest news leak is bound to cause President NObama more problems.

    America, this is the individual (NObama) that fooled quite a number of American voters into supporting his candidacy. However, there is still hope. Americans must continue to stand tall, speak loud and clearly. Whether Black, white, or what ever, America must not allow its citizens to be silenced.

    America, PLEASE don't be intimidated by President NObama and his cronies. In case you are wondering, YES, I am a life-long Democrat.

    September 21, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Steve, Columbia SC

    Of course they spoke with Paterson, and discouraged him from running.............but they won't say that they didn't or another Congressman will stand up and say "You Lie".

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

    I have been around a long time and it not the first time a candidate has been asked not to run. It's politics. How about Arlen Specter of the Republican party. They were not supporting him, either, so that is why he became a democrat so let's not forget what goes on over and over. Let' not forget Joe Lieberman who received little or no support from his party and came over the the Democratic party. This is done all the time so let's not make it racial Mr. Steele. Your jealousy is so apparent and I hope you never decide to run for president because you will never achieve it. Too bitter. You are where you are not because you were the best...let's not kid ourselves.....you are where you are because the Republicans needed a black person in full view. Truthfully, I thought you were better than what you are but you are showing me how shallow you really are....

    September 21, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Minnesota

    I think we have much selective reading here from our GOP trollers! Everything other President has done this in the interests of their party. Its the way these things work fools!

    September 21, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. mypitts2

    So, basically, the answer is yes, Obama did ask him.

    September 21, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Minnesota

    I think we have much selective reading here from our GOP trollers! Every other President has done this in the interests of their party. Its the way these things work fools!

    September 21, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Otto

    Bottom line is that I personally would prefer Cuomo and I think he has a better chance of winning. I have nothing against Governer Patterson but the mix-up/blunder that was made over the Senate seat cause some to have second thoughts.

    These days even a thought gets out into the public and the President should know there are eys and ears on every wall. Gotta keep in under wraps Mr. president!

    September 21, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Paul from Phoenix

    I understand a President being involved in state politics as a fundraiser and campaigner. However, Obama is taking his Czarist tactics to a new level by trying to dictate how state politics should be run.

    Obama = Putin, or, for those of you who have seen V for Vendetta, Obama = Sutler. He even has the biological scare Sutler used (swine flu).

    Suttler's big line was that the people needed to be reminded why they need the government. Sounds very similar to Obama's speeches.

    September 21, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Sharon

    I live in NYS, and am a loyal Democrat, but Patterson is an embarassment. The legislative fiasco he seemed to have no control over coupled with the very, very dirty infighting common to Albany politics, which he has not seemd to even pretend to rise above, not to mention the dirty tricks concering Caroline Kennedy and Hillary's vacant Senate seat all combine to make him a pariah.

    Despite the ramblings of Mr. Steel, it is NOT racial, I voted for Obama, it's about incompetence!!

    September 21, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Rev. Wright,Van Jones,Acorn & the Unions

    Problems, Problems these days not good.

    September 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. nyc

    Won't it be funny in 2012 when Gov. Patterson can ask Obama
    'please don't run for re-election".

    September 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. j williamson

    As a New Yorker, I can say Paterson will never survive a primary challenge let alone a general election. The state is billions in debt and taxes are constantly going up (in addition to new ones being invented). The state coffers have an insatiable thirst for more revenue – a thirst which will never be quenched under the present system. Paterson contributed to the mess as a state legislator, and now he's in charge, and people are fed up. Years of generous welfare benefits has New York teetering on the edge of the abyss.

    September 21, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Luis

    This is not a government issue, it's a party issue. Because Obama is the president this doesn't mean that he can't get involved in his party decisions. He is also a democrat. If he is making some intervention in this case I Believe he is not doing that as president, he is doing this as a leader of the Democrat party. This guy don't have any opportunity to win this race, as party and politics interest the Democratic patry can't afford that.

    September 21, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. terry, va

    Another example of Obama to control the government. Next he will be involved in town council elections etc. What he needs to do is get a spine and oversee national security and quit lying about the health care bill.

    September 21, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. geecee

    If there is a Democratic Primary – Cuomo wil win and he has the best chance of beating the Republican candidate, regardless of who it is, but especially if it is Giuliani!! In any event, the Dems. don't want to lose the governship of New York. Would the Rethugs want to? I doubt it! Race shouldn't have anything to do with the selection of who is the best candidate for the Dems to run.

    September 21, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Sgt. USMC

    I am all for whatever keeps republicans out of power. Their destructive, disruptive and racist actions have divided this nation. I voted for Bush in 2004 and have since become a strong supporter of the Democratic party. Although every party has it's faults, republicans have shown lack of class in the past year or so. They are keeping this country from recovering and will stop at nothing to prevent President Obama from succeeding.

    September 21, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. the girl

    He needs to yank his nose out of things that are none of his business. He is a control freak. We need to vote every one of them out!

    September 21, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Jay T.

    Do you think the morons who are ripping Obama for overstepping his authority even know why Karl Rove is in hot water? Bet not. Fox isn't reporting that story. But, it would shed some light on the loss of freedom we experienced under the Bush regime.

    September 21, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Brain Dead in Ohio

    Since when have Conservatives been able to out-crazy conspiracy theorists?

    Talk of V For Vendetta, Vladimir Putin, Stalin, Hitler...

    You people only seem to know the slightest about Vendetta and I'm assuming that's beacuse it was a movie.

    You can't argue with crazy... Just try to convince that homeless guy that aliens didn't steal secret plans via brainscan. If you can, please talk to your nearest Glenn Beck Republican...

    September 21, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Otto

    Listen people: The President is the leader of the Democratic Party and he can get involved in any State where an election is held. How he does it is another matter.

    He knows and most New Yorker is aware of the sport Gov P is in and we all know Cuomo is stronger than any candidate the GOP can muster. As leader, he wants his party to win and he has not yet completed most of his election promises. Why should he not say something if he believes his party may loose seats? I'd say the same thing...it's an just a personal thing.

    September 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Debby

    I wish Obama would ask Deval Patrick to step aside. He has done absolutely NADA for the state of Mass. It would be so funny if a Republican got in there as Gov.

    September 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. magella

    Much ado about nothing. It's called POLITICS, people. Every past president has weighed in on major gubernatorial or congressional elections–it's part of their job.

    I find it ironic that these same people complaining about Obama seemed to have no issue whatsoever with Bush ensuring trillion-dollar no-bid contracts in Iraq for his cronies, all on OUR DIME...

    September 21, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Cortland

    Anyone who refutes that racism in America is reaching a head only needs to read this comment thread.
    That said Gov. Patterson has made a lot of difficult decisions that could either ruin or save the state from ruin. Only time will tell.
    I do not think however that he is an electable figure and will only end up embarassing himself terribly when trounced in any election, even for dog catcher.

    September 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Debra Austin, Texas

    Obama is no different than any other leader of their Party. If you like Patterson, I'm sure you don't like Obama telling 'your' guy to get out. For Party Democrats, they want the strongest candidate and under no circumstances could that be Patterson. For all the trolls and Republicans, it's none of your business and what you think about Obama and his involvement is irrelevant.

    September 21, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. TCM

    haha...the WH is acting like, "Who...us? We said that..?" When, all along the entire country wouldn't doubt for a minute that this is typical of the Commander-in-Thug.....

    September 21, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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