By JON CAMPBELL
Posted: Aug.22, 2011
ALBANY — As he contemplates tossing his hat into the already crowded presidential race, former Gov. George Pataki and his allies are hoping his socially moderate views could separate him from the current Republican primary field.
Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo confirmed the three-term governor is “strongly considering” a run for the White House in 2012, though he declined to say when the Garrison, Putnam County, resident would announce his intentions.
Several state GOP leaders said there could be room for a moderate candidate in the mostly conservative field, which features about a dozen Republican candidates including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
“It’s a big field right now, and he would probably be one of the few moderates jumping into the race,” said Rockland County GOP Chairman Vincent Reda, who serves as vice chairman of the state Republican Party. “It’s a wide-open field, and there’s room for moderates.”
Pataki, who served as governor from 1994 to 2006, leans conservative on fiscal issues, but is socially moderate. The former governor is pro-choice and pushed a gay-rights bill during his tenure.
While the GOP nomination is up for the taking, the 66-year-old Pataki faces an uphill battle, even in his home state.
A Siena College poll released last week found he boasts a 51 percent approval rating among New Yorkers, but just 11 percent of Republicans prefer him to run against President Barack Obama. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is also said to be considering a run in 2012, led with 24 percent, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulling in 18 percent, according to the poll.
Pataki is well known in New York, but would have to considerably boost his name recognition across the country if he’s serious about a presidential run, said Monroe County GOP Chairman Bill Reilich, an Assemblyman from the town of Greece.
“Certainly, the governor is known in our state and just beyond our borders somewhat, but his national recognition is not as high,” Reilich said. “So I think it would be added work and added effort to play catch-up at this point.”
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