Obama, New York Governor Meet Amidst Political Tension

It seemed awkward in Albany, as President Obama was greeted on the tarmac by New York Gov. David Paterson, whom the White House has been trying to convince to drop out of the governor's race next year given his abysmal poll numbers.

VIDEO: Why Obama doesnt want NY Governor Paterson to run

The two attempted an uncomfortable hug of some sort, though later at a rope line in Troy, the president's smile vanished when he once again was forced to greet Paterson.

At the event in Troy, Obama praised Paterson's heart -- calling him a "wonderful man" -- but he beamed at Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and effusively praised the work of the man whom many Democrats would like to see pursue the governor's mansion next year instead of Paterson.

VIDEO: Obama and Gov. Patersons Behind-The-Scenes Friction In Troy, NY

Obama's acknowledgement of Paterson was far from a ringing endorsement.

"First of all, wonderful man, the governor of the great state of New York, David Paterson is in the house," the president said, keeping his head down and his eyes on his notes, at Hudson Valley Community College.

Obama has grave concerns that Paterson cannot win in 2010, and the White House has taken the unusual step of conveying those concerns to the governor himself, several knowledgeable Democrats told ABC News.

Obama has not personally spoken with the governor about the race, "but it's no secret that Democrats in New York are very concerned about the situation and those concerns have been conveyed in an appropriate way," a source said.

The conveying of those concerns was first reported Saturday night by the New York Times.

"No one has ordered him out of the race," the source said. "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."

Paterson Pushes Forward

On Sunday, Paterson said he is going forward with his re-election campaign.

"I'm still running for governor. I'm running for governor," Paterson said at a parade in Harlem.

Asked how he felt about the president getting involved, Paterson said he would not comment on or discuss confidential conversations.

A Marist poll last week indicates that 70 percent of voters in the Empire State -- and 65 percent of Democrats -- don't want Paterson, the former lieutenant governor who took over when Eliot Spitzer resigned last year amid a scandal about him patronizing prostitutes, to run next year.

White House political director Patrick Gaspard has been internally leading the charge within the administration to try to convince Paterson to not seek election to a full four-year term next November, according to Democratic sources.

Last week, Gaspard met with the governor to make the case that he shouldn't seek re-election. That meeting took place in New York at Paterson's campaign headquarters Monday, the same day Obama was on Wall Street speaking on regulatory reform.

Three days later, Paterson publicly named a campaign manager for his re-election contest.

The next day, Friday, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., conveyed the White House message to Paterson as well.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused to say today if the president has told Paterson he does not think he should run.

"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. "

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