Paterson Meets The Press, Awkwardly

How could a pre-planned, much-publicized appearance on national television end up this uncomfortable?

David Paterson went on Meet the Press yesterday morning to discuss reports that the White House has asked him not to run in 2010, and somehow the governor managed not to have a clear, canned statement about exactly what happened between him and the president.

Gov. Paterson said he had “confidential conversations” with the White House, but as David Gregory predictably–inevitably–followed up, the governor seemed bewildered. Gov. Paterson strained not to say much of anything, Mr. Gregory kept pressing and it all came to this less-than-dramatic denouement:

“But the White House specifically said, ‘Don’t run’?”

“I don’t know that,” Gov. Paterson replied.

“You don’t know that?! You certainly know you don’t have their support.”

“I’m blind, but I’m not oblivious.  I realize that there are people who don’t want me to run.  I’ve never gotten an explicit indication authorized from the White House that I shouldn’t run.”

Only then did Gov. Paterson succeed in shifting the conversation to his talking points–which were pretty good. He talked about how, as a blind man, he was always told there were things he couldn’t accomplish, and said it was his directness in solving the state’s problems–without regard to poll numbers–that are to blame for his historically low poll numbers. But by then it was too late.

Steve Kornacki felt the same way; he has a more detailed look at the governor’s missed opportunity.