Washington (CNN)George Pataki will air a TV commercial this week in New Hampshire chastising fellow Republicans for focusing on social issues instead of addressing economic and foreign policy challenges facing the nation.
First on CNN: Pataki criticizes GOP's focus on social issues
The former New York governor does not mention a specific Republican by name, but it is clear he is taking aim at the dozen or so potential rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.
The three-term governor warns that failure to heed his advice will clear a path for Hillary Clinton to win in 2016.
"Defeating Islamic terrorists, shrinking government, growing the economy -- these are the issues that matter most," Pataki says in the 30 second ad obtained by CNN. "These are the issues that matter most. Instead we're debating social issues like abortion and gay rights. They are a distraction, and will only help elect Hillary."
Clinton, the frontrunner and only announced candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, declared her candidacy Sunday. She is in Iowa Tuesday for her first campaign event.
The 30 second commercial, which was just posted publicly on Youtube, will begin airing later this week on WMUR and will be paid for by "We The People, Not Washington" Super PAC, which was formed as Pataki explores a presidential bid.
A Pataki adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, would not disclose the cost of the ad buy, but noted it was significant for New Hampshire and would run for at least two weeks.
Pataki, who left the governorship in 2007, flirted with presidential bids in 2008 and 2012. Now, eight years removed from office, he faces serious obstacles as he considers another bid for the White House, primarily name recognition in a crowded field of large personalities and at least half a dozen current governors and U.S. senators. This has caused the former governor to fly largely under the national radar -- he barely registers in early polling of the Republican presidential primary contest.
But the Pataki adviser said the governor sees an opening for a Republican who is an economic conservative, socially centrist and hawkish on foreign policy issues, especially in New Hampshire.
"This is the governor's eighth trip to New Hampshire, he has announced a steering committee with two of only 14 state senators, is opening an office in Manchester and will be the first potential 2016er to have hit every county in New Hampshire," the Pataki adviser said. "His approach is to take advantage of the retail opportunities in New Hampshire to shape a dialogue about the need to shrink the size and scope of Washington."
While considered a long shot to win his party's nomination, Pataki's criticism of fellow Republicans illustrates the ongoing battle within the party over hard line stands on social issues. It is widely expected there will be two "primaries" within the 2016 Republican presidential primary as some candidates compete for social conservatives, while others try to appeal to more centrist-minded Republicans.
Pataki's commercial will begin airing in New Hampshire just as many potential GOP presidential candidates appear in the state this weekend for a political summit organized by the state Republican Party.