George Pataki said no to a White House bid Wednesday night, opting instead to launch an advocacy group that will take up the cause of deficit reduction.
The former New York governor said his new group, No American Debt, will put pressure on GOP presidential candidates to offer specific solutions to the country’s red-ink problem. "I'm not running for president," Pataki told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "I think this is an extraordinarily important issue. We are going to focus on this."
Pataki did add a requisite “never say never.” That aside, his statement that he’s not running seemed to mark a quiet end to a low-key presidential flirtation that never amounted to much beyond the murmurs of some supporters. Pataki said his real focus is to "make sure the American people understand how important dealing with the deficit is," and to influence the race in key states. He called the growing national debt "a crime against the future, our children."
Pataki, who told the Wall Street Journal he has more than $1 million banked for the group and plans to raise $10 million, has been mulling a presidential campaign for months. But he’s kept a low-profile since stepping down as chairman of the anti-health care reform group Revere America in early February. Revere America raised and spent about $2.6 million on target congressional races in the 2010 cycle, lending credibility to Pataki's enduring national fundraising strength.
Pataki weighed and passed up runs for the White House in 2000 and 2008, and most recently passed up a run against New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, leaving his 2012 options open. While saying Wednesday that he does not immediately plan to run for president, he didn't close the door on entering a future White House contest.
"I've been around politics long enough to know you never say never," he said.