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Paterson vows to stay, restore his reputation

Gov. David A. Paterson speaks at a breakfast

Gov. David A. Paterson speaks at a breakfast forum in New York. (March 1, 2010) Credit: AP

Gov. David A. Paterson vowed Friday to restore his reputation while more groups called for his resignation and a new poll showed flagging support for him remaining in office.

Repeating his pledge not to step down, Paterson told reporters in Manhattan that he would "cooperate with the investigations and will be clearing my name."

He has been accused of interfering in a domestic violence case involving his aide David Johnson and lying about receiving free tickets to a World Series game last year. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is probing the former, and the latter has been referred to him and Albany District Attorney David Soares by the state's ethics watchdog.

Later in the day, Paterson told about 100 people at the opening of the Palm Bar & Grille at Terminal 4 of Kennedy Airport that he has no plans to resign. "In our system of government, to step down over unproven allegations would create a new level of vulnerability that would be chaotic," he said.

Paterson's comments came after a Quinnipiac University poll found support for his finishing out his term had dropped 26 percentage points from earlier in the week.

Forty-six percent of voters surveyed on Wednesday and Thursday said he should stay, while 42 percent want him to go. That's down from the 61-31 ratio seen on Monday and Tuesday - before the tickets controversy was revealed by the Commission on Public Integrity.

"Support for Gov. Paterson erodes with every headline," pollster Maurice Carroll said. "Voters started the week giving the governor the benefit of the doubt, 2 to 1. Now, there is more doubt and less benefit as he clings to a bare plurality of support."

Asked about the erosion in support for him, Paterson blamed saturation media coverage of the allegations against him. The governor said the public was solidly behind him after the initial report about the domestic violence case but later stories had taken a toll.

"When you get a chance to tell people exactly why people cannot comment on investigations until they actually get there, I think they understand and will support me," he said.

Still, a good-government group deserted Paterson. Common Cause called on Friday for him to resign, citing the need to adopt a state budget by April 1.

"The allegations of abuse of power and criminal conduct by the governor have become the sole focus in Albany, at a time when the undivided attention and full creativity of the state's leaders must be devoted to addressing the state's very grave fiscal crisis," said Susan Lerner, the group's executive director.

James T. Madore reported from Albany and Yamiche Alcindor from New York City.

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