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Fmr. NY Gov. George Pataki speaks at an event at New England College earlier this month

May 27, 2015 11:28 PM

Steinhauser: This time, Pataki's not kidding around about running for the White House

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

EXETER – The third time will be the charm for George Pataki.

After flirting with Republican presidential bids in 2008 and 2012, the former New York State governor will finally launch a campaign for the GOP nomination. Pataki will announce his candidacy Thursday morning at the iconic town hall in Exeter. The historic seacoast town is the birthplace of the Republican Party.

Pataki hinted at his announcement Wednesday on Twitter, saying “A big day tomorrow. Honored to stand on this historic stage where Abraham Lincoln once spoke.” And his website urges supporters to “check back on Thursday May 28th for an important announcement.”

And Thursday morning, just a few hours before his big event, Pataki did announce his intentions in a new video posted to his website.

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 betting on New Hampshire

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

"One of the things that's terrific about New Hampshire being the first primary is that it's so retail. People want to meet you. They want to shake your hand. They want to sit down across the coffee table and not just listen to what you have to say but have you listen to what they they're saying. And I think that's the best type of politics," Pataki said in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News.

Earlier this month, in a sign of things to come, Pataki told NH1 News that “I think this is a critical moment in American history where we need the right leadership to change the direction in Washington. I know I have the ability to provide that leadership.”

But in a lighter night, he joked about his height, saying that “I think I have Jeb (Bush) by about an inch and a half. In fact somebody once asked me what sets you apart from everybody else (in the GOP 2016 field) and I said I’m taller than any of them.”

Following his expected announcement at the Exeter town hall, 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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