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Paterson is scheduled to present a plan later this month to the Legislature to deal with a more than $2 billion deficit that likely will require politically unpopular cuts in funding for some of Albany’s most powerful special interests.

Last week, the Marist College poll found 20 percent of New York voters approved of Paterson’s performance as governor, compared with 21 percent in June. Only 24 percent of Democrats felt he was doing well. Seventy percent of voters said Paterson isn’t a viable candidate for 2010, including 65 percent of Democrats.

In comparison, Cuomo’s job approval rating is 69 percent. Sixty-seven percent of New Yorkers felt he should run for governor, including 77 percent of Democrats.

As lieutenant governor, Paterson moved to the governor’s office in March 2008 after Eliot Spitzer resigned amid a prostitution scandal. Since then, his popularity has plummeted and the state’s economic situation has deteriorated, with job losses mounting and the unemployment rate rising to its highest level in 26 years.

“I found that 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,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, reacting to news accounts on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“That will be very interesting to see what the response from black leadership around the country will be about the president calling the governor to step down or not run for election,” said Steele, who is black.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday that he supported Paterson’s bid for re-election, even though the governor recently endorsed Bloomberg’s top Democratic rival in the November mayoral election.

“I’m going to do everything I can to help him,” Bloomberg said. “I don’t know whether he wants to run for re-election, but if he does, I would urge him to go for it.”

Paterson announced on Friday that he is endorsing the city’s comptroller for mayor, saying it’s time for a change at City Hall. Bloomberg is serving his second four-year term.

Though he emphasized that he remains friendly with the billionaire mayor, Paterson criticized Bloomberg for persuading the City Council to change a term-limits law last year allowing him to run for a third term.