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Former New York Gov. George Pataki Enters Race for President

Christopher Leonard-cc

John Burger - published on 05/28/15 - updated on 06/08/17

The man who led Empire State in wake of 9/11 is second Republican to announce in two days

Standing at well over 6 feet, George E. Pataki often towers over a crowd.

The question now is how he will stand out in an increasingly crowded field of Republican presidential aspirants.

The former New York State governor announced his bid for the White House Thursday, becoming the second GOP hopeful to throw his hat in the ring this week (Sen. Rick Santorum announced on Wednesday). 

From the outset, Pataki is seeking to convince voters of his electability from his experience as a Republican beating the liberal lion Mario Cuomo, the late three-term governor of a blue state. In fact, Pataki was returned to the governor’s mansion twice.

But that success came with the concessions so many Republicans in similar situations feel they have to make. Pataki, reportedly a Catholic, was and is "pro-choice" and signed into law a gay rights bill. According to the New York Times, he has has said that Republicans should not focus on issues like same-sex "marriage" and abortion, calling them “a distraction” that would hurt the party’s chance of retaking the White House. "He believes the issues are best left to individual states to decide," the Times wrote.

That might not sit well with that part of the electorate for which, it is said, there will be stiff competition this time around in the run-up to next summer’s GOP convention, the so-called Evangelical vote. Perhaps this is why Pataki’s announcement video is peppered with phrases like "God bless you" and "We are founded on a miracle" and "a God-given belief in the nobility of the human spirit." The video focuses on the need for "We the People" to take back control of the country from the federal government.

Michael Long, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, acknowledges having differences with Pataki on the social issues, but conceded that Pataki is "sincere" in running on a message of taking the country back.

"He really believes that we’re heading in the wrong direction and he’s not ready to support anyone who’s already out there," Long said in an interview Thursday. "From the perspective of the social issues he’s nowhere near perfect, but he does have a good grasp on national and economic issues."

Long, who said he met with Pataki last week, also appreciated having "another voice" in the race. "Someone said to me recently that there are too many candidates. There’s not too many candidates. The dialogue from outside of the aisle is a lot better than having a coronation like the Democrats are having."

One area where conservatives may take a liking to Pataki, however, is his history of opposition to Obamacare. In 2010, he announced the creation of Revere America, a national organization that would work to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Pataki called the legislation a "horrific" and costly bungle.

John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.

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