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New York Now's Interview With Gov. Paterson On Stringer-Spitzer Race

Former Governor David Paterson appears to be somewhat conflicted about his role as an official supporter of New York City Comptroller candidate Scott Stringer, and his ongoing friendship with his former partner- in-government, former Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Paterson, in an interview with public radio and television, says he’s sticking with his endorsement of Stringer “as a matter of personal integrity.” He endorsed Stringer before Spitzer entered the primary just days before the deadline to file signatures.

Paterson says Stringer performed “miraculously” as Manhattan Borough President, creating jobs and cleaning up the illegal drug trade..

Paterson says he and Spitzer have remained in touch since Spitzer quit the governor’s post in 2008 over a sex scandal.

“We’re very good friends. We get together all of the time,” Paterson said.

He says Spitzer “understands” why Paterson is campaigning for Stringer.

The former Governor, who has a daily radio show, says he will interview Spitzer this Friday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he and I didn’t spend a little time together after the interview,” Paterson said. “Because we have a personal friendship.”

Paterson was asked whether Spitzer deserves a second chance.

“Here’s how I look at life,” Paterson said. “ In some states, prostitution is legal.  In some countries it is.  In France, apparently you’re not married unless you have somebody else. They do it a different way.”

The former governor says the public makes a distinction between what goes on in someone’s personal life and violating the public trust by “taking bribes” or charging the taxpayers for personal perks.

“But if you steal money anywhere, whether it’s Las Vegas, New York or France, people hate you,” Paterson said. What I’m saying is, people’s personal issues have not thwarted the public from supporting them.”

Paterson says New York City Mayor candidate Anthony Weiner does not fall into that same category, because he “wasn’t telling the truth about anything.”

The former governor says he’s not getting political pressure to more openly campaign for Stringer , and he  predicts Stringer will ultimately win the Democratic primary on September 10th. He says one of Stringer’s big advantages is that he has “no secrets, no skeletons in the closet”.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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