NEW YORK - President Obama has asked New York Governor David Paterson to withdraw from the state's 2010 governor's race for fear that the embattled fellow Democrat cannot regroup from a series of political setbacks, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
The Obama administration is worried Paterson's unpopularity could also drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York and the Democratic-controlled state legislature in the November 2010 election, the Times said.
Citing an administration official, the Times reported that Obama's request that Paterson step aside was put forward by the president's political advisers, but approved by him.
The newspaper quoted another administration official as saying: Is there concern about the situation in New York? Absolutely. That official added that the concern has been conveyed to the governor.
A New York Democratic operative with direct knowledge of the situation also confirmed that the request had been put forth, the newspaper said, adding that the operative described Paterson as being resistant to the idea.
All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
Paterson, who as lieutenant governor assumed leadership of the state last year after Governor Eliot Spitzer stepped down in a sex scandal, has seen his approval rating in polls plummet for months after a series of political setbacks.
The state Senate was gridlocked for nearly five weeks during June and July as Republicans and Democrats fought for control. The financial crisis has hit New York hard, and the state has struggled with budgetary woes.
Obama's unusual request that Paterson not seek to remain in the office he assumed last year -- an especially sensitive one given that he is the nation's first black president and Paterson is one of only two black U.S. governors -- was conveyed by U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks, who is close to the administration, the Times said.
Neither Paterson nor his office responded to requests for comment on Saturday, and Meeks could not be reached, the Times said.
(Writing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Eric Beech)