Ames, Iowa—As Texas Gov. Rick Perry made the plunge Saturday to become the “none of the above” candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, there was talk among Republicans here about still one more contender joining the GOP sweepstakes: New York’s former three-term Gov. George Pataki.
Several Republican leaders in the Hawkeye State pointed out to HUMAN EVENTS that, after three appearances in Iowa since June, the moderate-to-conservative Pataki was behaving increasingly as if he were a presidential contender. In fact, when he appeared before the Greater Des Moines Partnership businessman’s group July 22nd, sources told us, Pataki said he was disappointed that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had decided not to run and, as a result, he (Pataki) “may run.”
Pataki’s remarks sounded like a step toward a candidacy from his first appearance in the Hawkeye State back on June 20th. Speaking at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale on behalf of the No American Debt group of which he is honorary chairman, the New Yorker said “I am not running for President at this time.” Pataki, however, did express his dismay that presidential candidates were talking so little about this issue he said he is most passionate about—getting the U.S. out of debt.
A day later, on June 21, Pataki made a brief appearance at the Polk County Conservative Breakfast on his way to have breakfast with Iowa’s Gov. Terry Branstad. The two served as governors together from 1994-98 (Pataki’s first term, Branstad’s fourth) and are considered good friends. Among those attending the Conservative Breakfast was veteran Iowa Republican operative Darrell Kearney, a former finance chairman of the state GOP, who has been a key player in several past Republican campaigns.
A familiar figure on the national Republican scene, Pataki got high marks from conservatives for dealing with spending and government regulations in his first two terms as governor. But in his third term, many on the right felt the governor’s performance was disappointing because he did not stand up enough to the Democratic-controlled legislature. Moreover, like Rudy Giuliani, Pataki still considers himself a “pro-choice Republican” and it is increasingly difficult for someone not pro-life to be on a national GOP ticket.
But the fact that Pataki seems to be seriously considering a candidacy shows that there is clearly a vacuum in the Republican presidential field and that may well be the key factor in his decision-making process.