New York Governor David Paterson said on Sunday that he didn't know whether or not the White House told him not to run for re-election, before ultimately admitting that they had conveyed "concerns."
In an uncomfortable interview on "Meet the Press," the embattled Democratic Governor ducked and dodged a barrage of questions over a report that the Obama administration had pushed for him to step aside in 2010.
"I'm blind, but I'm not oblivious," said Paterson. "I realize that there are people who don't want me to run."
"All right," said host David Gregory, "but let's be very clear here about what happened. The president's team -- and others speaking on their behalf -- said to you, 'You should not run.' Isn't that right?"
"I can't say that, David," Paterson responded. "There are people who have told me not to run. There are a lot of people who told -- have told me not to run."
Gregory pushed: "But the White House specifically said, 'Don't run.'"
"I don't know that," Paterson replied.
Pressed again and again by Gregory as to what, exactly, was said to him by the president's men, Paterson eventually conceded that "they certainly sent the message that they have concerns."
"And I appreciate that," he added, "but let me just tell you at the outset, I am running for governor in 2010, I don't think that this is an issue other than for the people of the state of New York to decide."
"I don't think I'm a drag on my party," said the governor, whose poll numbers and standing in the state suggest that it would take something of a political miracle for him to win re-election in 2010.
"I'm running for governor of the state of New York," he declared defiantly.