George Pataki, the pro-abortion former governor of New York, said today he will not seek the Republican nomination for president. Pataki flirted with the idea for weeks, but political observers did not expect him to run or become a serious contender if he did.
The former governor was slated to participate in an event this weekend in Iowa, the site of the first presidential battleground in the fight to name a Republican nominee to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama. Pataki was expected, if he were to run, to have announced his candidacy tomorrow at the Polk County Republican fundraiser, but sources told CNN he would not become a candidate.
Although Pataki held office for three terms in one of the most populated states in the nation, his pro-abortion and moderate views on other issues would likely ave alienated him from the pro-life conservatives who constituted the majority of the Republican Party.
Pataki also flirted with running for the GOP nomination in 2008, when Sen. John McCain ultimate won the nod. After spending 11 years as the governor of a large state Republican don’t do well in, some thought he might be a top-shelf presidential contender. He opened a campaign office in New Hampshire, the second state in the primary race, but he closed it shortly thereafter. Pataki ultimately, in 2008, gave his blessing to several staff members joining other presidential campaigns — including that of fellow New Yorker Rudy Giuliani, an abortion backer who was expected to perform well but ultimately fizzled.
In comments on the CNN television program “Situation Room” around that time, Pataki claimed he could overcome objection to his pro-abortion stance that prevent previous GOP presidential candidates like Arlen Specter and Pete Wilson from gaining any traction.
“I don’t think there’s any question that someone who has a vision and a proven record of leadership … consistent with Republican philosophies of limited government … can win the nomination and the election,” Pataki said.
Post-election polling after the 2004 presidential elections found that President Bush’s pro-life stance gave him an edge over pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry.
A 2004 Wirthlin Worldwide post-election poll found that 42 percent of voters said abortion affected the way they voted for president. Twenty-four percent of voters cast their ballots for President Bush while 15% voted for Kerry, giving Bush a 9 percent advantage on the issue of abortion.
Eight percent of voters in the Wirthlin poll indicated abortion was the “most important” issue affecting their votes and Bush won among those voters by a six to two percent margin, leading Kerry by four percentage points among the most intense abortion voters.
Pataki upset pro-life advocates numerous times during his tenure as New York governor. He vetoed a bill that would have authorized a group of new specialty license plates there, including one commemorating the September 11 terrorist attacks. The governor blamed the veto on a lawsuit supporters of the Choose Life license plate filed after they were denied a specialty plate.
He also supported a bill in the legislature requiring taxpayers to spend $100 million annually on embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human life. And Pataki signed legislation requiring hospitals — including religious ones — to distribute the morning after pill and signed another bill requiring health insurance plans to do the same thing.