Paterson Offically Launches His Campaign, Is Defensive

Nobody appreciates David Paterson, according to David Paterson.

At an event this morning at Hofstra University, where he went to law school, the governor officially launched his campaign for election to a full term with a line referring to the recent rampant rumors about his personal life.

“Well, after all you have heard, there’s one rumor that I will confirm: I’m running for governor,” Paterson said at the start of a nearly 20-minute minute speech, in which he mentioned those rumors several times.

He described himself as a long-shot to win election, thanks to “other candidates [who] will do anything to win,”  “special interest” groups who’ve withheld money from his campaign, and the media, which he said has focused more on those “rumors” than his accomplishments.

“The reality is that I’ve done more in my two years as governor that most governors have done in two terms,” he said.

The governor touted his fiscal stewardship of the state, reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and expansion of access to health insurance.

“Our revenues are down twice the national average and yet our foundation is still strong, our credit rating is still high. That is not a rumor. That’s the truth and the people of New York deserve to hear it.”

Of course, some of the accomplishments the governor touted are also what made him unpopular with lawmakers, activists and the public.

“It was a tough time. He made tough choices,” Jay Jacobs, state Democratic Party chairman, told the crowd before the governor spoke. “In this time, in his two years, he has cut an unprecedented $32 billion out of the state’s budget.”

“That doesn’t make you popular,” Jacobs added. “When you cut money from people, it makes you unpopular. There are lots of special interest groups, frankly lots of unions, lots of hard-working folks, that get hit when budgets need to be cut.”

“Innuendo, ridicule and false rumors can leave a long and last effect,” Paterson told the crowd. “And it’s no surprise that this comes in the middle of a budget process when special interests have a lot to lose and at the beginning of a campaign when other candidates will do anything to win.”

Access to business and credit for women and minority owned firms “has sextupled,” the governor said. “Now, sextuple means six times. Lets not get that confused with any rumors, because that is the truth.”

Paterson came into today’s speech widely viewed as unable to win a full term as governor. He trails in public opinion polls and fund-raising to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo–according to The New York Times, surveys show he is less popular than Eliot Spitzer was the day after news of the prostitution scandal broke–who is expected to announce his all-but-certain gubernatorial candidacy in the relatively near future.

Cuomo, who beats Paterson in the polls by a wide margin, has refrained from commenting directly on Paterson’s political prospects, or his own, insisting that the political season is still months away. Paterson aides have already said that they view Cuomo as their main opponent to winning election.

Today, Paterson referred to Cuomo, though not by name, as a candidate buoyed by “special interests.”

“So, if you want a candidate that’s always telling the special interest what they want to hear but has never told the people of New York what they’re going to do about the problems of our time, balancing the budget, balancing the M.T.A. budget, rebuilding Ground Zero, stopping the violence among teenagers, then,” he said, “don’t pick me as governor.”

Paterson Offically Launches His Campaign, Is Defensive