NASHUA – Former New York Gov. George Pataki said early Tuesday that governors don’t necessarily make the best Presidents simply because they are — or have been – governors.
Pataki appeared with another likely presidential contender, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, as the dual keynote speakers at the “Wild Irish Breakfast” at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua – one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day events in New England – benefiting the PLUS Company.
After the proverbial blarney was thrown about for an hour, Pataki turned serious and looked ahead to a possible candidacy.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said that governors would make better President because of their executive experiences. But Pataki, who served three terms in Albany, said, “I heard a former governor say that you have to be a governor. I think that was a little self-serving.”
“I think executive experience does help,” he said. “Having run one of the largest, most complex governments in the country is something that I’m proud of. But there is no one single path or magic trail to becoming an effective executive. I think being governor should help, but I don’t think that’s the only way it should be.”
Pataki said he “dramatically changed” New York state government while serving as governor from 1995 through 2006 by being pragmatic.
“You have to sit down and solve problems with people who don’t necessarily share your philosophy,” he said. “And when it’s necessary, you compromise to reach common ground. And that’s one of things that is lacking in Washington. You have people who won’t even talk to each other. It’s disappointing we’re not solving the problems facing this country.”
After visiting New Hampshire several times already this year, Pataki said he is “very encouraged,” although he continued to insist he has no timetable for a decision on whether to run. Twice in the past, he has flirted with the idea and then decided against it. He appears far more serious this time around.
“When you sit down and talk to ordinary people from across New Hampshire, the reaction you get is that we need to change things, we need to take back Washington,” Pataki said.
While he may not have financial resources near the level of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and others, Pataki said New Hampshire allows candidates with relatively little money to seriously compete.
“People want to meet you, they want to shake your hand. They want to sit down across a coffee table and not just listen to what you had to say but have you listen to what they have to say,” Pataki said.