11 Questions for George Pataki, Potential 2016 Presidential Candidate

Eleven questions for former New York Gov. George Pataki.

ByABC News
February 9, 2015, 10:00 AM
Former New York Republican Gov. George Pataki walks through the snow Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, in Concord, N.H. during a visit to the  nation'??s earliest presidential primary state.
Former New York Republican Gov. George Pataki walks through the snow Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, in Concord, N.H. during a visit to the nation'??s earliest presidential primary state.
Jim Cole/AP Photo

— -- Meet yet another Republican who might want to be your next president: George Pataki.

Not ringing any bells?

Even the former New York governor acknowledged in a recent interview with Newsmax, “People don’t remember who I am, but we can remind them of that.”

Pataki, 69, served as governor of New York from 1995 to 2007, but has since moved to the private sector. Now, he's flirting with a run for the nation's highest office -- the third time he's done so since 2008 -- and he recently launched a super PAC called, “We the People, Not Washington.”

ABC News recently spoke with Pataki about his potential 2016 run. The questions have been edited and his answers trimmed for length and clarity.

1. I hear that you are “seriously” considering running for president.

That’s correct.

2. You also considered running in 2008 and 2012. What’s making you think about it again?

I look at what is happening in the country and I look at what’s happening in the world, and I think we just have dreadful leadership in Washington. We need to dramatically change the direction of this country and change the leadership in Washington. ... Having led a large state with a very complex government -- a large blue state I might add -- for 12 years and having been able to not just run the state well, but completely change everything from the economic climate to the finances to replacing a culture of dependency with one of opportunity, I believe that I have the ability to not just win an election but to govern this country well and to change its direction.

3. You were a three-term governor. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a fellow Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate, said he thinks the next Republican presidential nominee should be an outsider -- more specifically, a governor. Do you agree?

I think it’s a little self-serving for a governor to say the next president has to be a governor. I think it’s enormously important that that person have the ability to show their executive skills and capability at managing something, and I know I have that experience and ability.

4. Hasn’t it been a while since you last ran for something? I think your last campaign was in 2002.

Well, as a candidate. But in 2010, I led a group aimed at trying to stop Obamacare from being enacted and then to defeat those who have voted for it. And that was very successful.

5. Do you enjoy the campaign trail?

It seems to me to come naturally. I enjoy meeting with people. I enjoy engaging [in] ideas even with those who don’t necessarily agree with me. So now, I enjoyed campaigning when I ran for office in New York, and assuming I take that final step and become a candidate for president I have no doubt I’ll be out there enjoying it, working hard. No one’s going to outwork me, and I’m actually looking forward to it.

6. You were recently in the early primary state of New Hampshire to give a speech and meet with locals. How did that go?

It was tremendous. One of the things I love about New Hampshire is that so much of the politics is retail, where you get to sit across the table with people and hear their ideas and let them hear your ideas, as opposed to a 30-second sound bite on a TV commercial.

7. You have some rather sweeping plans for reforming Washington, including congressional term limits (two terms in the Senate and six terms in the House). Tell me more.

Right now, there are over 400 former members of the House and Senate ... who are registered lobbyists in Washington. One element of my reform agenda would be to pass a law saying [if] you served one day in Congress, there's a lifetime ban on you ever being a lobbyist. I think this is absolutely critical so that people who get elected in both parties from all other the country understand that they’re not just going to stay there and make 10 times what they do in Washington as they would going back home.

The second would be to say that whenever Congress passes a law that applies to the American people, it has to apply to them as well and to their staff. When they passed Obamacare telling the American people how great it would be for us, it wasn’t good enough for them so they exempted themselves and their staff -- and that’s just wrong.

I think 12 years means that if someone chose to serve that long, whether you were in the Senate or the House, you would have to face the voters again. And I think that’s a good thing. And it would be enough time for people to be able to develop the expertise to influence the process but not so long that they would end up captive of the interest groups that have so much power in Washington today.

8. You were governor of New York during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. How has that shaped your view of foreign policy now?

It was obviously the most horrific day, certainly for me, for the people of New York, but I think for America, as well, because it was the worst attack on civilians in America in our history. And that’s one of the reasons I feel so strongly about the need to get involved in this race. Because I look at what’s happening around the world and I saw the consequences of looking the other way on Sept. 11.

We have got to be proactive in destroying ISIS and any group that poses a clear threat to our safety here in the United States before they have the chance to carry out those attacks. ... I believe we have to take action now, including, if necessary -- and I believe it probably is -- boots on the ground, to go in, destroy this nest of poisonous vipers before they can attack us here. ... But we have to launch a quick, powerful sudden strike that destroys as much of ISIS and any other radical Islamic groups that pose a threat to our security here -- and then get out.

I honestly believe we are at greater risk of an attack in the United States today than at any time since Sept. 11.

9. If you decide not to run, who do you think would make a good president?

The Republican Party has a lot of good, talented people who probably will run. It’s good for the party and good for the country.

10. So, “West Wing,” “House of Cards,” or “Veep” -- which one is your favorite?

I’ve watched “West Wing,” I’ve watched parts of “House of Cards” and I watch “Veep.” I think “Veep” is hilarious and, as someone who ran a government and was a governor for 12 years, I find it to be a very funny show.

11. Any hints about when you’re going to say whether you’re in or out for 2016?

No timeline. I just intend to continue to be very active around the country and to speak out.