GOP chief hints racism involved in Obama, Paterson controversy

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While appearing on Face the Nation yesterday, GOP chief Michael Steele wondered why President Obama got involved in the New York governor's race.

It provided for some interesting TV watching yesterday:

The chair of the Republican party (an African-American) hinted that the President of the United States (an African-American) is opposed to the governor of New York (an African-American) seeking re-election because the governor is an African-American.

Weird? Yes. That's how the GOP's Michael Steele waded into the controversy over the White House's intervention in the New York gubernatorial race.

Appearing on Face the Nation on Sunday, Steele was asked for his thoughts on the report that the president has encouraged embattled New York Governor David Paterson to step aside from next year's primary.

"I found it to be stunning that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for re-election," Steele replied.

"I think Governor Paterson's numbers are about the same as [New Jersey] Governor Jon Corzine's numbers yet ... I don't know if there's been a request made of Governor Corzine to step down in New Jersey."

Baffled, Schiefer blurted, "You don't think he's asked him not to run because he's black?"

"I don't think that, but look, you have so few [black governors]," Steele said. "Look, if you're saying it's the numbers then why isn't there a call for those other Democrat governors who have low numbers as well."

"It's just a curiosity for me," Steele said.

Many find it curious that Obama got involved in this at all. Paterson' is struggling politically as it is. More than 70 percent of New Yorkers don't want him to run again. Even non-white voters don't support him.

A White House nudge can help clear the field and prepare the way for a harmonious Democratic primary. But hints of presidential involvement in local politics don't play particularly well in Albany or anywhere else.

Speaking of Albany, guess who's greeting the president when Obama arrives in New York's state capital this morning? You guessed it.

Paterson will be at the airport to officially "welcome" the president to his state. Obama is to give a speech in Troy.


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