I am being realistic about politics, the Democratic governor, who had been under growing pressure to pull out, told a hastily called news conference in New York City.
There are times in politics when you have to know not to strive for service but to step back, and that moment has come for me, he said. Today I am announcing that I am ending my campaign for governor of the state of New York.
Paterson, who took the job in 2008 when former Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal, only kicked off his campaign to seek his first full term last week.
The move follows revelations that he spoke with a woman who had accused a top governor's aide of assault. After speaking with the governor, the woman failed to appear in court and her case was dismissed, according to a New York Times article that disclosed the case this week.
The case raised questions of possible inappropriate intervention by the governor and added to calls from state and national Democratic leaders for Paterson to withdraw.
Paterson at the news conference denied that he had abused his office, not now, not ever.
The move shifts the spotlight to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who was expected to challenge the increasingly unpopular Paterson for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta and Joan Gralla; writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Sandra Maler)