Pataki: New York GOP will unite to fight Hillary Clinton
July 11, 1999
Web posted at: 7:44 p.m. EDT (2344 GMT)
NEW YORK (AllPolitics, July 11) -- Gov. George Pataki says New York Republicans will be united against Hillary Rodham Clinton's expected Senate candidacy in 2000, dismissing speculation that the state party might fracture due to his political rivalry with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the GOP front-runner in the race.
"If Mayor Giuliani is our candidate, I would do everything I could to help make sure he is our next senator," Pataki said during an interview on CNN's "Late Edition." "We've worked well together, with policies that made the state and city strong."
Clinton's expected run for the Senate is making headlines around the country
At the end of a week in which Clinton took a high-profile "listening tour" through upstate New York, the popular two-term governor took a few shots at Clinton's expected candidacy, saying that she wants to be "a national spokesperson for the left" rather than a representative for New York -- a state in which she has never lived.
"We have 18 million bright, talented, aggressive, capable people. We don't need someone from Arkansas or Illinois coming and trying to learn about our state in hopes of being sent back to Washington," he said.
Asked if he was surprised that Clinton appeared to be putting some distance between herself and her husband on issues of particular importance to New Yorkers, Pataki scoffed.
"How can you be surprised about what one of the Clintons does in the throes of a campaign?" he said.
The issue of Clinton's credentials as a New Yorker, pressed hard Sunday by Pataki, was also present throughout her tour, with protesters showing up at several stops to push the point home.
Protesters demonstrated at several stops along Clinton's tour
But some political analysts question whether the carpetbagger issue will still be a factor in November 2000, when the Senate ballots are actually counted.
"You can't put on a New York Yankees hat and suddenly say you're a New Yorker. But if you tour the state for a year (and) familiarize yourself with the issues, I think the carpetbagger issue could recede in some voters' minds," says Ken Rudin, political editor for National Public Radio.
However, New York political consultant Joseph Mercurio says that "in New York, performance and being right on issues is very important."
"She has no performance record, and on top of that, she's not from here," Mercurio says.
While Pataki stopped well short of saying he thinks Giuliani ought to be the party's nominee to take on Clinton in 2000, he did say that he hoped Republicans would avoid a divisive primary fight.
"I don't think Republicans should be taking shots at other Republicans. We have enough differences with Hillary Clinton and the Clinton administration that we can focus on those," Pataki said. "We're going to united behind our strongest candidate who makes the case, earns the job, and we are going to elect that candidate to the U.S. Senate."
The bad blood between the governor and the mayor goes back to 1994, when Giuliani endorsed the Democratic candidate for New York's top post, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, over Pataki, the Republican challenger.
Despite the endorsement, Pataki won. There have been reports that Pataki has been offering encouragement to potential Republican challengers to Giuliani, including two Long Island congressmen, Rick Lazio and Peter King.
In his Sunday interview, Pataki said either Lazio or King would make an "outstanding candidate" -- but he was also effusive in his praise of the mayor.
"Mayor Giuliani has been an outstanding mayor. He's done a great job in New York City. Our policies at the state level and his policies at the city level -- tough on crime, making welfare recipients work -- have changed the lives and the face of New York City and New York state," Pataki said.
Correspondent Frank Buckley contributed to this report, written by Richard Shumate.