WASHINGTON (CNN)– Speaking out for the first time, Gov. Paterson's wife says it is "very unfair," that her husband be asked not to run for re-election.
"I have never heard of a president asking a sitting governor not to run for re-election," Michelle Paterson told NBC New York Wednesday. "I thought it was very unusual and very unfair."
Asked if she thought his blindness is a contributing factor to his low poll numbers, the first lady said "most definitely."
"People have to see who (the governor) is," said Mrs. Paterson. "...The whole time I dated David I forgot that he had a sight disability. He has a way of maneuvering and getting around [so] that you forget."
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the White House had urged Paterson to withdraw as a Democratic contender in the 2010 gubernatorial race, a claim the White House neither confirmed nor denied.
Informed sources tell CNN that White House political director Patrick Gaspard met early last week with the Democratic governor to let him know about the administration's concerns he could not win the governor's race next year – a problem that could affect races down-ticket, not the least of which Senate seat now held by Kirsten Gillibrand. The White House decision to approach Paterson, says one source, "was driven by the poll numbers. There doesn't seem to be any way he can recover."
The latest poll results show Paterson's approval rating has dipped as low as 18 percent.
Speaking before reporters Tuesday, Paterson said he was not going to be bullied out of the election.
"You don't give up because people tell you what they think is going to happen," said Paterson. "You don't give up because people tell you who's running and who's not before they ever announce to do it. You don't give up because you're unpopular when you feel you've made the right decisions...and if you keep the attitude that you don't give up, you may get to prove people when the final tabulation is in that you were doing the right thing. "
Paterson also took the opportunity to throw some criticism back at the Obama administration.
"I understand the president's concern and I understand concern of staff members at the White House," Paterson said. "If you look at it from their perspective, they haven't exactly been able to govern in the first year of their administration in the way that other administrations have, where you would have, theoretically, a period in which the new administration is allowed to pass some of the needed pieces of legislation."
- Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.