May 28, 2015 11:48 AM

Steinhauser: This time around, Pataki announces for president in NH

NH1 Political Director -

EXETER – The third time is the charm for George Pataki.

After flirting with Republican presidential bids in 2008 and 2012, the former New York State governor finally launched a campaign for the GOP nomination.

“This morning I announce that I am a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.” Pataki said Thursday in Exeter, the historic Seacoast town which is the birthplace of the GOP.

The announcement, inside the town’s packed iconic town hall, came about three hours after Pataki unveiled his intentions in a new video posted to his campaign website.

In an one-on-one interview with NH1 News before his announcement, Pataki “I’m ready. I know that the need to change Washington is as big as been in my lifetime. I know the need to have a vision for the future of this country is absolutely essential. I have that vision. My life has prepared me for this moment.”

Pataki returned to New Hampshire Wednesday evening, for his tenth trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state since last autumn. He was introduced at the reception at the Exeter Inn by state Sen. John Reagan. The Republican from Deerfield is one of two state senators on Pataki’s Granite State steering committee. The other is state Sen. Nancy Stiles of Hampton. They were the first of the 14 Republican state senators in New Hampshire to back someone in the hunt for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Pataki set up his steering committee in early April, at the same time that he opened office space in Manchester for his political action committee, We the People, not Washington. Two weeks later Pataki took another big step towards running for the White House by going up with a paid TV commercial on Granite State airwaves. The 30-second spot, put out by his PAC, appeared to criticize some of the other 2016 GOP contenders, saying that a focus on social issues instead of the economy and national security will only help elect Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton to the White House.

Pataki, who served 12 years as New York State governor, is considered 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.

But Pataki added that "I've always had long uphill fights. I did when I ran in New York against Mario Cuomo. No one thought I could run."

Pataki ended up defeating Cuomo, the three-term Democratic incumbent, in the 1994 gubernatorial election.

Pataki is not in the top ten in nationally polling, which means he most likely won’t make the cut to be included in the first GOP presidential nomination debate, which is being held August 6 in Cleveland. Asked if he thinks Fox News, which is hosting the debate, is wrong for imposing such criteria, Pataki said “you know I don’t worry about the rules. You play by what the rules are and you do what you believe in and you go out and meet the American people.”

Takes shots at Clinton

In his speech, Pataki fired away at Clinton, saying “no one will be above the law, not even if you’re a former secretary of state who’s name happens to be Clinton.”

And pushing back against Democratic Party claims that the GOP is anti-middle class, Pataki said “we are the party of the middle class, unless by middle class the mean someone who left the White House dead broke and ten years later had a hundred million dollars.”

“She (Hillary Clinton) speaks for the middle class? They are the party of privilege. We are the party of the middle class.”

Pataki was New York governor for Clinton's first six years as U.S. senator from the Empire State.

Pataki betting on New Hampshire

Pataki believes that the Granite State's tradition of retail politics levels the playing field for a longshot like him.

“I’ve been to Iowa several times. South Carolina three times, and I’ll be traveling the country. But New Hampshire’s a state, where I’ve said in the past, I love retail politics. Sitting across from a table, talking to people. Letting them look you in the eye and ask you a question. To me that’s the best type of politics. It’s the best type of interaction and I think New Hampshire is a good a place if not better to have that opportunity,” Pataki told NH1 News.

Following his announcement, Pataki walks down the street for lunch with local business people at Me and Ollies, a popular bakery and cafe with four locations along the Seacoast. Later he goes door knocking with Stiles in Seabrook and he finishes his day with a Rockingham County GOP social hour at the Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton. Clinton held a business roundtable at the well-known brewery last Friday.

For Pataki, the jokes about his numerous dalliances with running for the White House may now be over. But in March, at a Saint Patrick's Day breakfast and roast in Nashua, Pataki even made fun of his past flirtations. He said that Donald Trump, who's also once again considering a presidential bid, is "the only person in America who has flirted with running for president longer than I have."


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