Paul Steinhauser: Ex-NY Gov. George Pataki leans toward 2016 bid
CONCORD - George Pataki says he's "very strongly inclined to run" for the White House.
And in an interview Monday with NH1, the former three-term Republican governor of New York said it was "outrageous" that the Obama Administration didn't send a high profile representative to Sunday's massive anti-terrorism rally in France.
Pataki spent Sunday and Monday making the rounds in New Hampshire, his third visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state in the past couple of months. Pataki, who considered but eventually decided against presidential bids in 2008 and 2012, said that "this time is very different because the situation in Washington is far worse. It has grown way too powerful, too big, too intrusive, too expensive, and it just continues to try and dominate so many elements of the peoples' lives in a way that I think is horribly wrong. And you look at the globe, and as I said, it's the most dangerous situation we've been in since September 11."
"And if you believe as I do that you have the ability to run, not just run a large complex government, but change it by reducing its size and its cost, and reducing the burden it places on small businesses and families, and you believe you have the ability to lead globally, to stand up to the Islamic terrorists like ISIS or Al Qaeda, and you sit it out, then shame on you," Pataki added.
Asked about a timetable, Pataki said "I don't' have a formal timeline but obviously it's just about a year to the first caucuses and primaries, so sooner rather than later."
Pataki added that he's in New Hampshire "talking to people at the grassroots, meeting with people, letting them know my ideas, my vision, my experience."
"We're going to have a great field of Republican candidates. I think that's a good thing for the party and a good thing for the country. But I know deep down inside that I can run this country well, and not just run it well, I can change it in the way that needs to be changed because I did that in one of the bluest most difficult states in America, so I'm inclined to run. We'll see going forward."
Pataki's trip to New Hampshire came just a couple of days after 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told donors he's seriously considering another run for the White House, and it comes after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made some high profile moves towards seriously launching a presidential campaign. But Pataki said he's not worried about Bush or Romney sucking up all the oxygen and locking up all the GOP donors.
"You know I think they'd both be great candidates and I think it's a good thing to have as many good candidates as possible. But I'm not worried about that. And it's not a question of oxygen. This is America. We're in New Hampshire. There are great many people who care, who get involved. Sure, money matters. We're going to look to try to have enough to get our message out there. But what others do isn't going to deter me if I believe I have the ability to both govern this country successfully in a way it needs to be changed and win the election," Pataki said.
But a veteran New Hampshire based GOP consultant says "Pataki has a steep hill to climb."
"What does he bring to the discussion that will differentiate him from the other contenders? Having been out of office for a long as he has, having not campaigned for himself for over a decade and how the world of fundraising has evolved makes his task even tougher than most of the other widely mentioned contender wannabees, but in New Hampshire anything is possible," said Dave Carney, a former longtime top adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Pataki slams Obama on French terror attacks
Pataki's trip to New Hampshire came as the administration came under fire for the lack of high-ranking representation at the march in Paris on Sunday. Pataki added to the chorus of criticism.
"Paris just suffered a horrible attack. I was governor on September 11th when New York suffered just a tragic, horrible, horrible day, and the world rallied behind us. And it meant so much. It meant that we weren't standing alone. That we weren't' just being supported by our country, but that the civilized global community understood that we needed their help and their solidarity at that time. That's where France is now and so many of the world leaders went there to express that support, and yes, maybe not the President himself, but the fact that the administration was not represented was just horrible. And it just continues the failure to understand the danger of global Islamic radicalism and failure to understand that leading from behind doesn't work, that has epitomized, sadly, the Obama administration," Pataki said.
Pataki said if he were in the White House right now, he'd be more aggressive in the battle against terrorists.
"There are a number of things we have to do. First we have to secure our border. We know that yes, there are people coming for employment, but there are also criminals and the terrorist groups want to use that border to bring people here who can attack us here. We have to secure it. We have to rebuild our military. Instead of reducing it to pre-World War Two size in this dangerous, dangerous time, we have to rebuild the military and show the world that we're not going to be passive in the face of this terror. When we draw a red line. When we say that we're going to take action or there will be grave action or consequences and we do nothing, it destroys our credibility globally. So we have to keep our word, stand with our allies, and when it comes to groups like ISIS, we have to take the out. Attack them over there before they have the chance to attack us here," Pataki added.
On the issue of illegal immigration, a divisive issue among Republicans, Pataki said that the recent executive action by the President was "wrong and probably illegal. It just muddles a difficult situation. The President can't change the law by executive action."
Moving forward, Pataki said that "the first thing we have to do secure the border and then what I would look at not pathway automatically to citizenship but to legalize status for the people who've been here, worked, paid taxes, obeyed the law, not run afoul of any authority, not been dependent on government. Not a pathway to citizenship but a pathway to legal status, but only once we've certified that we control the border."
On another issue that's recently split Republicans, the Common Core education standards, Pataki "I'm against it. I'm for high standards but I don't we should have Washington or some global community dictating to every state and every school how they're going to educate our children. I've said I believe in high standards but one of my aides brought her kindergartener's math course, math homework, to me. And I did very well in math in school. It was incomprehensible. I don't understand what they're trying to accomplish. The bottom line is we don't need a national group telling states how to educate our children. Education has always been the prerogative of the states and should continue to be that."
Jets fan rooting for Pats
It was lightly snowing when Pataki arrived at NH1's studio in Concord. That was just fine with the former governor.
"I'm from upstate New York. It's snowing. I like this weather," Pataki said.
Pataki's a longtime Jets fan. But with his team failing to make the playoffs this year, he's going to root for their nemesis this weekend.
"The Jets are out. I'm going with the Pats."
Not a bad answer if you're going to eventually try to win some votes in New Hampshire.