To be authentic, any public event featuring Gov. David A. Paterson seems to require at least one factual discrepancy on his part.
On Thursday evening, the governor of the past two years said he was not suspending his campaign and was, right then, still a candidate — though keeping an “open mind” about what others might tell him.
But Friday afternoon — just moments after Paterson pulled the plug on the campaign he launched six days earlier — state and Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs gave a more candid accounting of the previous day’s doings.
Jacobs estimated that Paterson made the decision to drop out by about 5:30 p.m. Thursday — before the governor said he had an “open mind.”
Jacobs acknowledged the difference, adding: “But that was a function of the fact that he had a press avail. And you know, what do you say, unless you’re going to announce it at that moment?”
Paterson, he explained, wanted a chance to speak with friends and others first.
In his campaign rollout in Hempstead last weekend, Paterson pledged to leave by the ballot box “or in a box.”
Asked about that Friday, the governor replied, “I’ll be leaving because of the ballot box, because it will be hard to re-elect me when I’m not running.”
Clever enough. But the murky question lingers as to whether he’ll last the year in office. A potentially explosive investigation is under way by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo — who is oddly, all of a sudden, the Democrat Paterson now plans to endorse.
As Paterson’s immediate departure is still demanded from several quarters — including Bill Perkins, the Democrat who succeeded Paterson in his Harlem Senate seat — Jacobs was also asked to address the prospect of resignation.
“From what I read today,” Jacobs said, “I’m not going to look at this in a legalistic sense. What happens tomorrow, you know, I don’t know. But right now — and I would tell you that’s the only way you make these comments — I don’t think that has merit at all.”
Everyone present seemed well aware that Paterson was making his latest remarks, with wife Michelle at his side, from the very spot in the governor’s office suite in midtown Manhattan where, in March 2008, Gov. Eliot Spitzer stood alongside his wife, Silda, and announced his resignation.
This was, of course, quite a different occasion. Paterson was merely cutting short an election bid that already seemed against all odds, and was still in a position to denounce salacious rumors about himself even as his actions in the domestic-abuse case involving a close aide draw scrutiny.
Paterson had this to say: “There are 308 days left in my term. I will serve every one of them fighting for the people of the state of New York. We still have very serious challenges and we’re going to have to come together from different areas of the state, in a nonpartisan way, to address these issues.”
The shelf life on all that? Speculate away.