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2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign: George Pataki

George Pataki served as the 53rd Governor of New York from 1995 - 2006, and ran for the Republican nomination for President during the 2016 election. He is the grandchild of Hungarian immigrants, and his father was a mail carrier and farmer.

Pataki was born in Peekskill, New York, a suburb of New York City, on June 24, 1945. After growing up in Peekskill and attending Peekskill high school, George Pataki was accepted into Yale University with an academic scholarship and entered as a freshman in the same class as George Bush jr. He graduated from Yale a full year early, and obtained his juris doctor from Columbia Law school in 1970. For the following ten years Pataki worked as a lawyer at a local firm, making connections that would eventually aid him in his various political endeavors.

In November 1981 Pataki was elected Mayor of his hometown, defeating the Democratic incumbent candidate and winning 70% of the vote. He was re-elected in 1983. George Pataki was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1984, and won re-election three more times. The New York State Assembly Democrats redrew district boundaries in 1992, and Pataki decided to run for the New York State Senate instead of a fifth term in the Assembly. Pataki unseated seven-term Republican State Senator Mary Goodhue, and served for one term before running for Governor in 1994. The biggest obstacle for Pataki during his Gubernational campaign was his lack of name recognition versus the three-term imcumbent Governor Mario Cuomo. After receiving endorsements from New York Senators and selecting a woman as his running-mate, Pataki won the election in every county but one outside of New York's five boroughs. Governor Pataki faced re-election in 1998, and won by a wide margin. In the first post-9/11 election, Pataki defeated Democrat Carl McCall and won a third term in 2002. Upon leaving the Governorship in 2006 Pataki went back to practicing law, focusing on renewable energy litigation.

Governor Pataki's economic policies focused on tax cuts, and he instituted more corporate and individual tax cuts than any of his predecessors. During Pataki's administration New York's credit rating was increased three times by national credit services. He has long been an advocate for casinos and their positive economic impact, and under his administration casinos were built in the Catskills, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo. As Governor, Pataki opposed the statewide legalization of same-sex marriage even though as a State Senator he spoke out in favor of gay rights.The Pataki Administration made a point of being tough on crime, and during the 11 years he was Governor New York went from ranking as the 6th most dangerous state, to the 7th safest. George Pataki is pro-gun control, and in 2000 led the State Legislature in passing extremely restrictive and stringent gun control measures. Bloomberg Business Week named Pataki one of the 20 individuals commended for their personal efforts to combat global warming in 2005, and he has been described as an environmentalist. Over 1 million acres of New York land were added to the Protected Open Spaces of New York during his tenure. Pataki has referred to the Affordable Care Act as “the worst law of my lifetime,” and has founded a non-profit organization dedicated to opposing the legislation and working to repeal it. Governor Pataki made four visits to Israel during his tenure as Governor.

Prior to the 2012 election Pataki travelled to Iowa, causing speculation of a presidential bid. In mid-2011 however he put these rumors to rest and stated that he would not be running a campaign for the presidency in 2012. On May 28, 2015, Pataki announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for President during the 2016 election. This is Pataki's first federal-level campaign

U.S. - Israel Relationship

  • Governor Pataki made four visits to Israel during his tenure as Governor, including a visit to open a bilateral trade mission.
  • “Allies and friends of America must know that our word is our bond. We will stand with our ally Israel, a democracy on the front lines of terror and barbarism.”
    (Campaign announcement speech, May 28, 2015)
  • “Whether it’s needing to reform our tax code so we can have a stronger economy... or standing with our allies, in particular Israel, as they face incredible challenges in the 21st century, these are not in my view issues for a constituency. These are issues for America.”
    (Algemeiner, April 28, 2015)
  • “Those who don’t understand how important it is that we stand with Israel, because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally, don’t understand what Israel has done for us... What better example of an ally, who will go beyond the call of duty in support of us, then Israel showed us in 1991.”
    (Jewish Press, April 16, 2015)


  • “The Iranian nuclear deal - this is one of the worst examples of failed diplomacy posing grave risk to America and our allies.”
    (NewsMax, July 23, 2015)
  • “In no way does this deal change Iran’s attitude to America. During the negotiations it was calling for ‘Death to America.’ There are dozens of legitimate reasons to reject this deal. It allows for hundreds of billions in [sanctions] relief, the lifting of sanctions on conventional arms, all while Iran keeps supporting terror around the world.”
    (Times of Israel, July 23, 2015)
  • “You don’t negotiate from weakness, you negotiate from strength, and sadly I fear that this president (Obama) has been so desperate to make a deal with the leading state sponsor of terror in the world that he has gone way too far to accommodate the demands of the Iranians and in the process, potentially placing the civilized nations of the world at risk.”
    (Algemeiner, April 28, 2015)
  • “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.”
    (JPUpdates, April 25, 2015)
  • “Today, in President Barack Obama, we have a President who is hostile to Israel, who works to make a deal with Iran which endangers Israel and the entire Western world.”
    (Jewish Press, April 16, 2015)

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • “The Palestinians need to recognize, unequivocally, Israel’s right to exist. Israel has to be comfortable that such an expression is meaningful, and at that point perhaps negotiations could be productive. But to me, it’s just a symbol of weakness and really dangerous for us to spend so much time negotiating with an entity that clearly at this point is not prepared to take any steps towards peace.”
    (Algemeiner, April 28, 2015)