Pataki Pitches Over Pizza

Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Lebanon — Republican presidential hopeful and former New York Gov. George Pataki made his pitch to a small group of city residents on Monday over a couple slices at Village Pizza on Lebanon’s pedestrian mall.

Pataki, who is struggling to make a dent in the polls amidst a sea of Republicans vying for the nomination, said in an interview that the best way for him to make his case to voters is by meeting with them one-on-one or in small groups, such as the seven people he met with at the pizza parlor and the approximately 50 Dartmouth College students he met with in Hanover later in the day.

“One of the things I love about New Hampshire and one of the reasons why we’re now just going to sort of focus and be here all the time is because so much of it is retail politics and it gives people a chance to ask questions directly and it gives you a chance to make the case directly,” he said in an interview at Village Pizza. “That’s what I’ve always loved the most about politics and what I think I’m pretty good at is just meeting with people.”

Pataki, 70, served three terms as New York’s governor after defeating Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994. Pataki has been out of office since 2007.

In his lunch discussion with voters, the former governor emphasized his work across the aisle with New York Democrats to make policy changes, such as reducing taxes and to change the state’s law to allow for same-sex marriage.

The “right way” to address same-sex marriage was through the legislative process, “not by having courts overrule what had been the law,” he said.

Both the lunch discussion and the afternoon chat with students began with Pataki saying that if he wins the nomination, he will win the election.

He has a steep hill to climb. A Sept. 24 University of New Hampshire poll shows that fewer than 1 percent of New Hampshire voters plan to vote for Pataki.

Mike Long, the chairman of the Upper Valley Republican Committee, who joined Pataki for pizza on Monday, said his group is happy to host any of the candidates who come to 
town.

Long, however, said he is currently supporting former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina. He said he likes that she does not come to the race with a political background and she has relationships with foreign leaders.

“I think she’s an innovator,” Long said.

Though Lebanon Republicans Karen and Raul Cervantes said they enjoyed meeting with Pataki, both are currently supporting Ohio Governor John Kasich. Karen Cervantes worked for Kasich when he ran for Ohio state Senate in the 1970s, she said.

“I trust (Kasich) with my life,” she said.

Raul Cervantes said he supports Kasich because of his “high principles” and he “loves to help people like me.”

Despite their allegiance, Raul Cervantes said he was glad to hear Pataki speak.

“Everybody deserves a chance,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt to hear them.”

At Dartmouth College’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, students quizzed Pataki on a variety of topics from the recent surge of support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Americans’ frustration with Washington politics and climate change.

Asked by a Dartmouth student for his take on Sanders’ recent surge in the polls, Pataki said Americans are dissatisfied with Washington and the way in which “interest groups” sway lawmakers.

Though Sanders is a U.S. Senator, Pataki said he is “not perceived as being part of the system.”

Dartmouth senior Latrell Williams, a government major with a minor in history, asked Pataki to describe how he would change Washington.

Pataki said he would like to shrink the size and power of the federal government by simplifying the tax code, reducing the number of federal employees, requiring that bills approved by Congress also apply to members of Congress and preventing former members of Congress from serving as lobbyists.

Dartmouth senior Noah Cramer, who works for NextGen Climate, asked whether Pataki would support the goal of reaching 50 percent clean energy by 2030.

Pataki said he hopes the country can do better than that.

In order to be a “party of the future,” Pataki said Republicans have to “embrace science.”

For example, he said people ought to stop debating the value of vaccinations. He said the science is well established and noted that George Washington had his troops inoculated — with smallpox — when they joined the army during the Revolutionary War.

In the same way, Pataki said Republicans should embrace the science of climate change. That said, Pataki said he differs from Democrats in how he believes carbon emissions ought to be reduced. He does not support fines, fees or taxes, which he said would drive companies offshore and fail to reduce global emissions.

Instead, Pataki said the government should encourage new technologies — such as fracking to extract natural gas, next generation nuclear power and improving efficiency of solar and wind in the electric grid.

After Pataki’s question and answer session, Dartmouth graduate student Isabella Price, a Catholic who leans Republican, said she is “actively searching” for a candidate to back in the primary.

Price said she appreciated Pataki’s nuanced approach to challenges such as climate change.

“I honestly did like what he had to say,” she said. “He acknowledged the complexities of critically important issues and offered concrete, compassionate solutions.”

Pataki told students they would be seeing more of him.

“I’ll be back on Saturday to root for Yale,” said Pataki — a 1967 graduate of Yale University — with a smile. The Dartmouth football team will face Yale on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Hanover.

Following his discussion with students, Pataki gave a talk entitled “America’s Economic Future” at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

Correction

Dartmouth College senior Noah Cramer, who works for NextGen Climate, asked Republican presidential candidate George Pataki about whether he would support the goal of reaching 50 percent clean energy by 2030, but it was another Dartmouth student who asked Pataki about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ rise in the Democratic polls. An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the latter question to Cramer.




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