Former three-time New York Governor, George Pataki has become the eighth candidate to officially throw his hat in the ring for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, adding yet another long-shot candidate to an already crowded field.
The former governor, in Democrat dominated New York, faces an uphill battle compared to most other GOP hopefuls. Pataki has been out of office for nearly a decade and barely registers in national polls. His moderate views on gun control, gay rights, and the environment puts Pataki squarely on the left side of the right leaning conservative GOP field. Pataki stated that he “will run on a “reform agenda” as a way to “appeal to the Republican base, independents, conservative Democrats, minorities, and young voters.”
Before his announcement, Pataki’s campaign posted a video on his website featuring an anti-big government message, “Washington has grown too big, too powerful, too expensive, and too intrusive.” The video began with Pataki inside the New World Trade Center as he highlighted his leadership role as governor of New York following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “We have always understood that we have a common background and a common destiny, and when we stand together, we can accomplish anything, I saw that on the streets of New York in the days and weeks after September 11th.”
The self-proclaimed “solutions guy” kicked off his candidacy with a rally in the birthplace of the Republican Party in Exeter, NH. As if he needed to add more difficulty to his chances of winning, Pataki lost track of which town he was in during his speech, confusing Exeter with Nashua, though they are an hour away from each other, Pataki said “Let us move forward, so just as the dreams of that young child growing up in Peekskill, N.Y., came true, so too, the dreams of a young child born today, whether in downtown Baltimore or here in Nashua, New Hampshire, can come true.”
Outlining the agenda he plans to pursue as president, Pataki vowed to put a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists, repealing “Obamacare” and “Common Core” by reasserting the 10th Amendment and returning power to the states on these issues, as well as calling for a simpler tax code, lowering manufacturing taxes and eliminating excessive taxes that hurts small businesses.
“Washington politicians and bureaucrats think they know better than us, you are our servants, not our masters.”
On foreign affairs, Pataki criticized the Obama administration for failing to confront the threat of “radical Islam.” He called for aggressive military action of sending American troops to Iraq to combat ISIS: “If necessary, we will send in American boots on the ground to destroy those training centers, destroy those planning centers and then get out.”
Taking a shot at Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton, Pataki criticized her claims to represent the middle class. “Unless by middle class they mean someone who left the White House dead broke and 10 years later had $100 million, unless by middle class they mean someone who charges a poor country $500,000 for a half-hour speech. That’s their party’s candidate.”
Pataki’s strategy for 2016 seems to be New Hampshire centric. NH is the one best hope for more moderate candidates, as it was for Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. So one can expect the slug fest between Pataki, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich and potentially Chris Christie in NH to be a nasty fight on the back of the Iowa winner. Shrugging off the underdog label, Pataki said it reminds him of the time he ran for governor in a deep-blue state and “can overcome the odds as we have done in the past.”
One thing is for sure, in a field, which will ultimately have more than one moderate voice; Pataki will need to bend over backwards to distinguish himself from other moderate candidates such as Bush, Christie, and Kasich who all have more name recognition, money and following than Pataki. Playing the moderate card to town hall their way into a primary win won’t cut it. New Hampshire voters may be more moderate but their votes will likely swing to either Rand Paul or Marco Rubio by looking at the polling for the state.
At this point, the campaign trail looks like a lonely journey for Pataki as no prominent donors are stepping up to help boost his name recognition. With his lack of support, its unlikely Pataki will make the first Republican debate, which is limited to the top 10 Republican hopefuls. This can hurt any efforts to increase his name ID and fundraising nationally.
What do you think? Does Pataki have a shot at the nomination? What does he bring to the field that other candidates don’t?