By Kenneth Lovett In Albany and Erica Pearson
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Days after the Obama administration told him it would rather he not run for election next year, Gov. Paterson seemed to send a little payback on Tuesday.
While saying he understands why the Obama administration is involving itself in New York politics, Paterson noted the White House's inability to get key legislation passed in the first months of his presidency.
"If you look at it from their perspective, they haven't exactly been able to govern in the first year of their administration the way other administrations have, where you would theoretically have a period in which the new administration is allowed to pass some of the needed pieces of legislation," Paterson said.
Paterson blamed the partisan politics of Washington.
From the White House's view, losing any Democratic governors or congressional seats will create further problems for Obama's agenda.
"That's why ... in order to accomplish their health care plan, their energy plan, the other ideas that they have for America that really are transformative, they've had to look at who is going to be voting, who can actually help them," he said.
"So I don't have a problem with the fact that they would look to different states to try to get that assistance."
The comments raised some eyebrows.
"That may very well be interpreted by some Obama loyalists as a slap at the President," Democratic operative Hank Sheinkopf said.
An aide said the governor was pointing out the need to protect Democratic seats because the Republicans did not give Obama a honeymoon period.
While saying he is concerned about the Democratic Party, Paterson defiantly added he's "concerned" about his ability to govern with all the speculation surrounding his future.
Paterson's comments were his most extensive since the Daily News reported Sunday that Obama political director Patrick Gaspard told the governor Sept.14 that the White House preferred he not run.
Paterson insists he's running.
"You don't give up just because people tell you what they think is going to happen," Paterson said.
"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 when people get a chance to look at what you're up against they will reflect on it.
"And if you keep the attitude that you don't give up, you may get to prove to people, when the final tabulation is in, that you were doing the right thing."
Paterson downplayed the obvious tensions between him and Obama when they met Monday as the President traveled upstate for a speech.
Paterson said Obama was "gracious," asked how he was feeling and expressed "a little chagrin about the process of the situation" when the governor greeted him at the airport.
Obama was much more effusive and friendly to Paterson's presumed rival, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Meanwhile, sources said top Democrats want to give Paterson space to work through the issue.
Former President Bill Clinton told NBC's "Today" show Paterson is "not in good shape now" politically, but said that the governor "will do in the end what he believes is best for New York."
Clinton's comments came as a new Siena College poll shows Paterson has been unable to turn his dismal ratings around.
- More coverage from the New York Daily News .