Fmr. New York Gov. George Pataki in Newport, New Hampshire Wednesday

Feb 3, 2015 6:32 PM

Pataki: science has shown that vaccinations work

NH1 Political Director -

NEWPORT - George Pataki says "I thought the issue of vaccinations was settled by George Washington at Valley Forge when he vaccinated the troops against smallpox about 240 years ago."

The former New York governor and all-but-certain 2016 Republican presidential contender Tuesday weighed in on the vaccination debate, which has spilled over into the race for the White House.

And Pataki, who was talking to local Republican activists at a pizza restaurant in downtown Newport, said he could compete for the nomination against someone like former Florida Jeb Bush, who's expected to raise big bucks, by running the New Hampshire way and emphasizing retail politics.

Pataki's visit to the Granite State comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 100 confirmed cases of measles in 14 states from coast to coast. Thanks to the outbreak and President Barack Obama's comments on Monday in urging parents to vaccinate their kids, a bunch of the potential GOP White House contenders are clashing over the need for strict vaccination policies.

Pataki told NH1 that "quite simply I think science has shown that vaccinations work. And to me what is really dangerous is when a parent doesn't get their child vaccinated, a young infant who can't be vaccinated could catch the disease. Sadly we had 50,000 whooping cough cases last year, including 20 deaths, so I think vaccination is very important and certainly appropriate that we encourage in the strongest possible terms people to make sure their children are immunized."

Pataki to emphasize retail politics

Pataki, who flirted with White House runs in the 2008 and 2012 cycles, was back in New Hampshire twice last year. His current two-day swing is his second trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state so far this year. He kicked off this latest visit with a "meet and greet" at the Lebanon Diner in Lebanon. After his stop at Village Pizza in Newport, he was headed to Keene, to headline a meeting of the Cheshire County Republican Committee at Kristin's Bakery. He was also set to meet with Julianna Bergeron, one of New Hampshire's two members to the Republican National Committee.

On Wednesday, Pataki's scheduled to stop by the Quality Cash Market in Concord before speaking with students at St. Anselm College in Goffstown about global security challenges since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In an interview with NH1 in Newport, Pataki said "I don't have a timetable but I'm very strongly inclined. I think the conditions globally and the out of control spending and borrowing and power in Washington are really as bad as I've seen them over decades and if you really believe in your ability to lead and in your philosophy of government, when the times are the most difficult is when you feel the most compelled to try to lead, so I'll be back."

With a field that will most likely include Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and some other big names in the party, the former three-term governor who's been out of office since early 2007 will be considered a longshot. But he says he can compete the old fashioned way.

"One of the things I enjoy about New Hampshire is the retail politics. I'm here at a pizza place in Newport, just sitting down with six, seven, eight people, to talk to them directly about their views and my views," Pataki said. "I think that's how you overcome massive amounts of money being spent in campaigns. Any candidate can have a pollster write them a 30 second TV spot but New Hampshire is where I think you really get to know people, talk to them, and they can directly ask you what they want, and I think that's a tremendous opportunity."

Pataki's visit also comes one day after Sheldon Silver stepped down as New York State Assembly Speaker, after holding the post for more than two decades. Silver was forced to resign from his powerful leadership position following his recent arrest on five federal corruption charges.

Sheldon was speaker during Pataki's years as New York State governor. Asked if he had any knowledge of Silver's alleged illegal activities, Pataki said "no I didn't know any of the specifics of what happened."


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