Gov. Paterson backs off from racism charges

Gov. David A. Paterson attends the Parrish Art Gov. David A. Paterson attends the Parrish Art Museum’s Midsummer Party in the Hamptons. Photo Credit: Lee Fryd

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ALBANY - Saying he had been misunderstood, Gov. David A. Paterson attempted to distance himself Tuesday from comments he made last week about racism driving media criticism of him.

Paterson, at Stony Brook University, said he "never . . . blamed any of my political problems on race." He admitted creating controversy, but said he was acting out of anger at suggestions that he was a poor parent.

Paterson said his remarks Friday on WWRL-AM radio in Manhattan came after NY1 News stated that his daughter, incorrectly identified as underaged, had been with him in a nightclub until early morning. His stepdaughter, Ashley Dennis, 21, is a senior at Ithaca College.

"I was annoyed by what I thought was an outrageous reference to my parenting skills and probably shouldn't have even commented on it," he said.

Still, African-American leaders such as President Barack Obama and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins have rebuked Paterson for linking ethnicity to reports about some Democrats wanting him to drop out of the 2010 elections.

In the Friday interview, the governor said, "We're not in the post-racial period. . . . My feeling is it's being orchestrated, it's a game."

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Paterson also cited racism in an interview published Monday by The Borrero Report blog. "One very successful minority [Obama] is permissible, but when you see too many success stories, then some people get nervous," he said.

Tuesday, Paterson said he had moved on. "I'm just correcting the interpretation of my remarks that are wrong."

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