Fmr. NY Gov. George Pataki at a campaign picnic in Newcastle, NH on Wednesday June 24

Jun 24, 2015 10:03 PM

Pataki celebrates birthday in NH; says gun control not the solution to shootings

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

NEWCASTLE – George Pataki spent his birthday in New Hampshire.

Which is a pretty smart place to be if you’re running for the White House.

The former three-term New York State governor and Republican presidential candidate Wednesday kicked off a full day of events in the first-in-the-nation primary state by meeting with supporters at a picnic held at a park alongside the Atlantic Ocean.

At 70, Pataki’s the oldest person in the ever growing field of GOH presidential candidates.

Asked in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News whether his age helps or hurts his odds of winning the White House, Pataki said “I feel absolutely great. When I look back at presidents that we’ve had, we tried young and inexperienced with Barack Obama and I don’t think that’s worked out particularly well. And we tried somebody who they were saying back then was way too old in Ronald Reagan, and that did kind of work our pretty well.”

Pataki’s swing through New Hampshire included a bunch of events he had to cancel two weeks ago after his son-in-law suffered a life-threatening stroke. Pataki said his son-in-law David “physically has made a good recovery so far.”

Asked how he’s juggling running for president and dealing with a family crisis, Pataki said it’s easy, “your family has to come first. I care deeply about the future of this country, but when you have a family crisis like this you respond to it.”

“My daughter’s strong and she understands that we have to do two things at once and I’m sure I can,” he added.

Gun control 'not the solution'

Pataki spoke with NH1 News one day after Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia discussed trying to revive their bill to increase background gun checks. This in the wake of last week’s horrific shootings at an historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine people dead. A 21-year old white man has admitted to killing the victims, who were all black.

Pataki doesn’t believe more gun control is the answer.

“We’re all Americans and we have to put aside the differences that too often people use to divide us. But I don’t think the solution is to give the federal government more power over the Second Amendment. I think that what we need to do is focus more on mental health issues. When you look at so many of these instances, whether it was Columbine, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Tucson, those were people who were obviously mentally ill. And we need to be able to treat them before we have an incident like this. It’s not the gun, it’s the shooter,” Pataki said.

“When I was governor I actually got a law passed allowing us to confine in a mental health institution people who quite clearly posed a threat of violence to themselves or others,” he added.

Pataki’s considered a longshot for the GOP nomination against candidates with bigger name identification and bigger bucks. Asked how his fundraising is going, Pataki said “I haven’t’ really been able to focus on this. I’ve been a candidate now for about three and a half weeks and we lost one of those weeks because of the tragedy. We’re not expecting to have raised a lot at this point, but we’re confident that going forward we will be able to raise whatever we need to get our message out there.”

Pataki may not make the cut for the first Republican presidential nomination debate. Only 10 candidates will make the stage at the August 6 showdown in Cleveland (host city for next year’s Republican convention). With 13 candidates already declared and at least three more GOP White House hopefuls all but certain to announce, a bunch of contenders won’t make the cut. Fox News is using an average of national polling to determine who makes the stage.

Republicans in New Hampshire as well as Iowa and South Carolina, the first three states to vote in the primary and caucus calendar, are urging Fox News to include all the candidates in their debate. The New Hampshire Union Leader proposed holding a forum for the candidates who don’t make the cut at the Fox debate. Soon after the Union Leader announcement, Fox news said it would give airtime to candidates who didn't make the cut, saying they will be invited to take part in a 90-minute forum to be aired hours before the prime time debate.

With little name recognition outside of New York, Pataki’s registered very low in national polling, and it’s likely he won’t be included in the first debate. Pataki’s spending much of his campaign efforts in New Hampshire, which can level the playing field thanks to its emphasis on retail type politics.

Pataki told NH1 News that “what happens to me on August 6th is far less important than what happens in February of next year.”

“If the rules don’t allow me to participate at that debate, I’ll be here at Union Leader for their candidate forum, and I’ll just continue to fight the fight in New Hampshire and across the country,” he vowed.

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