Presidential candidate George Pataki returned to his hometown of Peekskill for a boisterous reception Sunday. About 200 people attended a rally at Peekskill’s Lincoln Depot Museum, fondly recalling Pataki’s past elections as mayor, local assembly member and senator as well as governor and proclaiming him “the next president of the United States.”
The rally may not have significant meaning in electoral terms, but the combination of reminiscing and encouragement it provided to the candidate is undoubtedly helpful. The several New Hampshire campaign appearances of Pataki’s that I’ve attended, including three last Thursday, don’t provide this type of boost. He’s generally well-received there, but his New Hampshire audiences are mostly paradigmatic New Hampshire primary voters; interested, attentive and perhaps supportive but usually committed to the idea that they are on a long term effort to meet and evaluate multiple candidates.
In contrast, the local elected officials speaking at Sunday’s rally spoke glowingly of Pataki and cast him as following in the electoral footsteps of erstwhile underdog Abe Lincoln. (The rally site is a small museum commemorating Lincoln’s 1861 speech in Peekskill while en route to Washington for his inauguration.) Although the speech that concluded “yes we can!” was a bit awkward (hint – that slogan is spoken for), the effusive praise appeared to buoy Pataki. Pataki did feel compelled to correct a moment of excess as one speaker looked forward to the moment “when he takes the throne at the White House.” Here are highlights of the introductory comments:
“I’m home!” began Pataki, launching into a discussion of his Peekskill upbringing and working both on the family farm and at a local factory. His speech lauded the people of both Peekskill and the United States, promising that “the 21st century is going to be the greatest century America has ever seen” and weaving in some of his anti-Washington themes. He also raised September 11th and current threats from “radical Islam”, although with less focus than in some speeches. Here’s Pataki’s full speech:
Photo Gallery: Our photo gallery from Pataki’s rally is here.