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Mrs. Paterson to Mr. Obama: Butt out

September 23, 2009 |  4:40 pm

New York First Lady Michelle Paterson

Embattled New York Gov. David Paterson has a wife named Michelle too, and she came out swinging today at the Obama White House.

Paterson became governor after Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. With his poll numbers down and still-popular former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani lurking in the wings to challenge Paterson, the White House sent word to Albany that perhaps Paterson could fall on his sword for the party and just forget to file his re-election papers.

Today, in a series of interview with the Big Apple's panting news media, New York's First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson said it was wrong for the White House to get involved.

"David's the first African American governor in the state of New York and he's being asked to get out of the race. It's very unusual and it seems very unfair," she told the New York Post. "I never heard of a president asking a governor not to run ... I don't think it's right."

During a trip to upstate New York on Monday, President Obama told Paterson, according to Michelle Paterson, that he was "a little chagrined about how the White House handled the message."

The person who delivered the message -- New York Democrat Gregory Meeks -- said today he only laid out the case for retirement but didn't push. "All I was doing was telling a friend what the issues are that are out there," the Queens congressman told the Daily News. "It's up to him."

No matter how clumsy the message delivery system was, maybe Mrs. Paterson has a point. Maybe Obama should stay out of Paterson's backyard and worry about his own poll numbers.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: New York First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson. Credit: James Keivom / New York Daily News

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