Kaine Says He Was Unaware of Paterson Discussions
On what was otherwise a fairly sedate episode of WTOP's monthly "Ask the Governor" segment featuring Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), Mark Plotkin broke in at the last minute to ask Kaine the hardball question of the hour: What did you know about the White House's attempt to persuade New York Gov. David Paterson (D) not to run for his seat next year?
Not much, Kaine responded -- though he declined to say whether he supports President Obama's position that Paterson should bow out.
By way of background, The New York Times recently reported that President Obama had asked the beleaguered Paterson not to seek a full first term next year, an unusual intervention into state affairs by a president. Plotkin's question was aimed at Kaine because of Kaine's second job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
"Is that the role that the president of the United States should play?" Plotkin asked. "Shouldn't the political parties fight that out with themselves? And my question to you, Governor, is, as chairman of the DNC did you approve of this? Were you consulted? And do you want David Paterson not to run for governor in the Democratic primary in New York?"
Plotkin went on to ask whether Kaine generally would support "clearing the field" in races around the country for candidates that Obama favored.
Kaine responded that reports of Obama's intervention were "grossly oversold" and that he had no role in the discussions that were reported in the press, though he would not say whether he personally had talked with Paterson about that subject on a separate occasion.
"I was not involved in the discussions with Gov. Paterson, nor was I aware that they were going on," Kaine said. "But I will say this. I am very familiar with the White House. They're a performance-based organization. And they do spend time talking to all governors, and all senators and all House members and candidates about, Look, let's be candid about your chances here. Let's see what the polls are. If they're good, that's great. If they're not, how do you overcome that. So it wouldn't surprise me at all that discussions in that character would go on."
When grilled about his own opinion, he said he often has candid discussions with candidates and elected leaders but that "I don't talk about them on the air. So I'm not going to spend time talking about that race publicly."
September 29, 2009; 11:31 AM ET
Categories: Election 2010 , Sandhya Somashekhar , Timothy M. Kaine
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