Steinhauser: Pataki warns fellow Republicans not to help Hillary in 2016
CONCORD - George Pataki says if Republicans argue over social issues in the race for their party's presidential nomination, they'll be handing Democrat Hillary Clinton "ammunition" to use against the GOP in the race for the White House.
"Her campaign is going to be to divide Americans and convince them that they need big powerful government to protect them from the evil Republicans. So let's as Republicans not give her this ammunition. Let's talk about the things that matter," Pataki said Tuesday in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News.
The former three-term New York State governor and likely Republican presidential candidate's comments came one day before he goes up with a paid television ad on New Hampshire TV that hammers home the same point.
"Defeating Islamic terrorists. Shrinking government. Growing the economy. These are the issues that matter most. Instead we're debating social issues like abortion and gay rights. They are a distraction, and will only help elect Hillary, said Pataki in the spot, which was paid for by We the People, not Washington, the PAC Pataki set up as he explores a presidential bid.
A Pataki adviser said the commercial will run on broadcast and cable television in the Granite State for the next two weeks.
Earlier this month Pataki took a firm stand against Indiana's controversial religious freedom law, unlike many of his potential rivals for the GOP nomination. Pataki told NH1 News that "I don't think any private business should be able to discriminate against people because they might be gay."
And he was critical of some of the GOP presidential contenders who at first strongly supported the measure. But Pataki says his new spot is not an attack on any "particular candidate," but that rather "I think it's more about Hillary."
The ad is a signal that Pataki appears to be getting closer to launching a presidential campaign. Two weeks ago, Pataki took two more concrete steps. He announced the initial members of a New Hampshire Steering Committee for his political action committee. And Pataki also opened up office space in Manchester for his PAC. But he says he doesn't have a timetable for when he will decide on a White House run.
"We're taking major steps with the ad and with the office that we're opening. I don't have a time frame, but as I've said a number of times before, I'm serious about this," he told NH1 News.
Pataki spoke with NH1 News soon after arriving back in the first-in-the-nation primary state for his sixth visit this year.
If he runs, Pataki will be a longshot to win the nomination. He's been out of office for nine years, lacks national name recognition, and is already witnessing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie poaching into his New York based donors.
"I understand I have a long uphill fight to even become the Republican nominee," he recently acknowledged to NH1 News.