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Pataki endorses Bush for 2000

Governor says he has no intentions of running for the U.S. Senate

May 24, 1999
Web posted at: 5:55 p.m. EDT (2155 GMT)

New York (AllPolitics, May 24) -- Having decided against a run for the presidency in 2000, New York Gov. George Pataki announced Monday his support for a fellow moderate Republican, Gov. George Bush of Texas.

"Governor Bush in my view has the qualities, the personal qualities, the ideas, and the record to be a great president," Pataki said.

Pataki also said that Bush "has the personality and the integrity and the ability not just to win the election, but after he's won that election to lead this country well from the White House."

Bush offered his thanks for the endorsement via a televised hookup from Austin, Texas, telling Pataki he had been told by Republican Party leaders that Pataki's endorsement would be a huge step.

"Your endorsement and support means a lot. I'm counting on you for the state of New York," Bush said. "I intend to win New York."

Bush has not formally announced his candidacy but has formed an exploratory committee that has been feverishly raising money since its creation. He also is scheduled to take several campaign trips in the summer months.

Pataki promised to throw his political team behind the Texan, whom he has known for over 30 years since they were undergraduates together at Yale University. Pataki graduated in 1967, a year ahead of Bush.

The New York governor was surrounded by more 100 state Republican officials, who he called the "the team that did it for me" in his 1994 election upset over former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

"And this is the team that in November of 2000 that's going to shock the world by electing George W. Bush and carrying New York state for George Bush," Pataki said.

Pataki also is often mentioned as a possible GOP vice-presidential candidate for 2000.

New York's presidential primary is scheduled for March 7, 2000, the same day as California and nine other states. New York has 33 electoral votes in the presidential election, the third largest prize behind California and Texas.

Pataki's announcement had been the source of great speculation, since the governor called the state's top Republican leaders to come to a Manhattan Hotel for a "major political announcement."

Pre-announcement speculation ranged from Pataki announcing his intentions to run for GOP nomination in 2000 to a possible statement of interest in the race for New York's open U.S. Senate seat.

Pataki has been traveling in recent months making political speeches in various states, including the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, igniting talk about his interest in the presidential race or other national office.

Gov. George W. Bush  

"The only thing I haven't heard him running for is mayor of the city of New York," former Sen. Al D'Amato, Pataki's political mentor, joked outside a private dinner Sunday night for many of the GOP officials invited to Monday's announcement.

Conspicuously absent from the dinner and the guest list for Monday's announcement was New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The mayor is himself exploring a possible run to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Giuliani's Democratic opponent in that race could be first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also is exploring a bid for the seat.

But the bad blood between Pataki and Giuliani is nothing new. Although they have publicly appeared to mend fences, the division wrought by Giuliani's 1994 endorsement of Cuomo is legendary in New York.

During his announcement Monday, Pataki tried to keep the focus on Bush's candidacy but when asked about his possible Senate candidacy, Pataki said he has no intention of running.

"I've been in politics long enough to know you never say never but I have no intention of running for the Senate," Pataki said.

The second-term governor said he would back another Republican candidate, either Rep. Rick Lazio of Long Island or Giuliani. Lazio was invited to Monday's event.


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Monday, May 24, 1999

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