ALBANY - Gov. David A. Paterson has lost his trademark whiskers.

He was sporting a short mustache but no beard at events in Manhattan and here Monday.

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Asked by Newsday about his change in appearance, Paterson initially quipped that it was tied to closing the $2.1-billion budget deficit.

"More cutbacks," he laughed.

When pressed, Paterson, who is legally blind, said he had tried to shave off his beard "about 10 years ago and it didn't work out. I have a new system."

The governor added that his son, Alexander, 15, suggested he get rid of the beard.