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Spitzer to Step Down; Paterson to Step In


From NPR News This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Melissa Block.

The Democratic governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, announced today that he would resign and forever leave public life. Many had expected his resignation two days ago when news broke that he had been a customer of a high-priced call girl business. Yesterday, more details came out. Spitzer had spent as much as $80,000 on prostitutes. And today, shortly before noon, he made the announcement.

NPR's Adam Davidson reports.

ADAM DAVIDSON: Nobody outside of his inner circle had seen or heard from Governor Spitzer since Monday when he briefly apologized for unspecified failings. Today, he left his Manhattan apartment a bit before noon and, followed by dozens of reporters and press helicopters, took a hectic drive to his office. There, he spoke for exactly two minutes and 32 seconds. He focused much of his attention on his family, particularly his wife, who stood beside him once again this week.

Governor ELIOT SPITZER (Democrat, New York): I've begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me.

DAVIDSON: Spitzer seemed calmer and more controlled than he was on Monday. There were no tears in his or his wife's eyes this time. The lawyer and former prosecutor never confessed to anything specific. He hasn't said exactly what he did wrong, other than that he let down his family and the state of New York.

Gov. SPITZER: I'm deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

DAVIDSON: Spitzer has not yet been charged with any crimes. It's possible he never will be. He may have violated federal prostitution and banking laws, or similar laws in New York and Washington, D.C. Today, the U.S. attorney investigating the case announced that the rumors are not true. He has not made any plea deal with the governor. Spitzer did say he will never again seek public office. That he will focus, for now, on his family. But that one day, he will seek ways to serve the common good.

Gov. SPITZER: I go forward with the belief as others have said that as human beings, our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time that we fall.

DAVIDSON: Many saw Spitzer's resignation as inevitable, especially after a majority of state lawmakers, including many of the governor's own Democratic Party, said they would vote to impeach him. Spitzer's most contentious political relationship was surely with Joseph Bruno, the Republican state Senate majority leader. The two have battled publicly and angrily for well over a year over practically every aspect of the state's business. Bruno made what some are calling a victory speech shortly before Spitzer's resignation.

State Senator JOSEPH BRUNO (Republican, New York): As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and to his family at this time. He must deal with his own problems in his own way. But it is now time for us and all New Yorkers to move forward.

DAVIDSON: Spitzer will officially stay on until Monday in order to give the lieutenant governor, David Paterson, some time to prepare to become governor.

Adam Davidson, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Adam Davidson is a contributor to Planet Money, a co-production of NPR and This American Life. He also writes the weekly "It's the Economy" column for the New York Times Magazine.