President Obama has grave concerns that New York Gov. David Paterson cannot win a reelection contest 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.
President 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 last night by the New York Times.
"No one has ordered him out of the race," the source underlined, "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."
A Marist poll last week indicates that 70% of voters in the Empire State — and 65% of Democrats — don’t want Paterson to run for reelection.
White House political director Patrick Gaspard, Democrats say, has been internally leading the charge within the White House to try to convince Paterson to not seek election to a full four year term next November. Last week Gaspard met with the governor to make the case that he shouldn't seek reelection. That meeting took place in New York at Paterson's campaign headquarters on Monday, the same day President 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-NY, conveyed the White House message to Paterson as well at a dinner, as reported by the New York Daily News.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, is contemplating a challenge to Paterson. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is also said to be interested in a run, though challenging an incumbent from his own party — the first African-American governor in state history — poses a set of political risks.
White House officials were underwhelmed by Paterson's performance in naming a successor to take Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's place in the Senate.