President Pataki?

Acting and speaking like a presidential candidate, former New York governor George Pataki made a campaign appearance in New Hampshire Sunday evening.  Pataki is not yet formally a candidate, but his intention to run was clear as he began a two day trip to New Hampshire with a “meet and greet” at a well-known political venue, the 401 Tavern in Hampton.  He was warmly greeted by the 25-30 attendees, although the attendees I spoke with shared the view that it’s too early to commit to any candidate.

Although he was three times elected governor of New York, once in an upset over the formidable Mario Cuomo and twice in decisive reelection bids, Pataki faces long odds and is generally regarded in New York political circles as having no chance whatsoever.  Out of office for eight years, he has modest name recognition, little campaign funding in the bank and a Republican primary electorate that’s significantly to his right on social issues.  He professes not to be worried, however, with his surprising 1994 gubernatorial victory over Mario Cuomo as inspiration.

He’s flirted with running for president multiple times, but never actually gone through with it.  At 69, this is his last realistic opportunity to run.  Even now, while he appears vigorous and healthy, his age may be an issue.  Although the country has grown more embracing of older professionals in many ways, we’ve shifted to a paradigm of younger presidents.  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama took office in their 40’s, and George W. Bush, who is one month older than Clinton, took office at 54.  At 70 71 on inauguration day, Pataki would be the oldest person to become president.

I spoke with Pataki briefly as the meet and greet concluded.  I began by asking whether he is, or intends to be, a candidate for president.  Pataki said he’s “likely to become a candidate” and that he’s “inclined to do this.”

Update:  Pataki also addressed a deeply emotional issue – how does the Jets fan feel about the New England Patriots?