Paterson Attacks His ‘Phantom’ Opponents

ALBANY—David Paterson is still at the point where interviewers first ask about the White House's non-support of his 2010 election bid, but is getting better at sliding toward his message of fiscal alarm, and including a shot at any potential political opponent.

Paterson appeared this morning on CNBC's Squawk Box. After declaring he's been "committed to running all along," he said he was "disappointed" by the timing of media reports because they landed just as he was going to play tough with a meeting of legislative leaders.

Paterson was asked if he tacked to the right by talking tough about income tax increases, which were eventually adopted as part of this year's budget.

"Listen, all I'm going to tell you is, it's not right of center, it's just right," he replied. "When you're trying to balance a deficit, it's no longer ideological. I didn't think raising taxes was the best way to address a recession, but when your budget deficit goes from $5 billion to $21 billion in eight months, when it's going up $83 million a day, you throw everything at the crisis. So my mind didn't change, my reality changed."

Later, an interviewer suggested Paterson's ability to carry on would eventually be his decision.

"Actually, in the end, it's the people of New York's decision," Paterson replied. "I'm going to see that they get to make it. Because when all these phantom people that say they're running for governor get into this race, they are going to have answer the same questions that I've been answering for 18 months. And by the way: if they wanted to show that they were different, and that they were exciting, and they were going to make Albany a different place, why don't they answer these questions now?"

Was he referring to Giuliani, an interviewer asked? (Andrew Cuomo was not mentioned, though he is considered a contender for the Democratic Party's nomination.)

"I'm not talking about anybody in particular. I'm just saying I keep hearing about all these people who are running for office. If you had any courage and wanted to be a leader in a crisis, get up and say now what you would do in a crisis," Paterson said.

Paterson Attacks His ‘Phantom’ Opponents