Former New York governor George Pataki launched his presidential campaign Thursday in Exeter, New Hampshire. Pataki, who’s been campaigning for months under the guise of a super Pac, joined the growing list of declared Republican candidates with a speech to about 200 supporters in Exeter’s Town Hall. Abraham Lincoln is among the many politicians previously appearing at the 160 year old Town Hall.
Before an invited audience Pataki spoke of his small town upbringing, his election victories and time as New York governor while castigating “oppressive government.” Noting that the Republican Party was created (or at least named) in Exeter, Pataki cast it as the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan and as “the party of the middle class” and the party of immigrants. Or at least the party of immigrants “who come here legally.” (Pataki’s opening included a few sentences in Spanish.)
With several invocations of September 11th, and despite declaring that America “will not be the world’s policeman,” Pataki pledged “to stand with our ally Israel”, to “stand with our allies in NATO and the free Baltic states” against Russia, to make sure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons and to destroy ISIS, using American troops if necessary. He also included his frequent disclaimer, and seeming indirect condemnation of the Iraq war and it’s aftermath, that he “will not spend $1 trillion or a decade nation building overseas.”
Pataki also recited his domestic campaign pledges, including instituting a lifetime ban on former members of Congress lobbying, repealing Obamacare and ending Common Core, replacing the current tax code, shrinking the federal workforce by 15% and to “fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion.” (We’ll leave the question of whether that’s none, a few or all IRS employees for another day.)
The speech and campaign kickoff went well for Pataki. The picturesque setting, a good-sized crowd of supporters, a decent performance by a politician who’s not a gifted speaker and good media coverage combined to make it a successful launch. As I’ve written about, Pataki faces extraordinarily long odds in an extremely crowded Republican field but his his campaign launch was a step forward in that lengthy competition.
Here’s Pataki’s full speech: