Former New York Gov. George Pataki has officially launched his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, making him the eighth Republican to jump in the race.
He launched his campaign Thursday morning with a four-minute campaign video, where he says "it is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this country."
"If we are to flourish as a people, we have to fall in love with America again," he says in the video, which features images of the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
The three-term Republican governor of New York, who was elected in 1994 and ran the state during the September 11th attacks and its aftermath, followed up with a campaign announcement speech in Exeter, New Hampshire. The Granite State is an early primary state and is likely the most in line with his more moderate views.
Pataki, who has an uphill battle to win the nomination, introduced himself to voters who know little about him outside of New York. He invoked his three favorite Republican presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt, a president most modern-day Republicans don't reference because of his positions that would be too moderate for today's Republican Party. But he also knocked the leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party.
"They say we are against the middle class. This too is nonsense," he said. "Unless by middle class, they mean someone who left the White House 'dead broke,' and 10 years later had $100 Million. Unless by middle class they mean someone who charges a poor country $500,000 for a half-hour speech. That’s their party's candidate. She speaks for the middle class? They are the party of privilege; we are the party of the middle class."
"They say we, are anti-immigrant," he said. "We, the proud children, grandchildren, and descendants of immigrants, know that immigration has and will continue to enhance the greatness of this country."
He also said the first part of immigration reform "must secure the border," which is a common position among Republicans. But the son of immigrants who speaks Hungarian, Spanish, French and German, also sent a message that his is not anti-immigrant. He spoke a line of Spanish in his speech and implored that "everyone coming here is coming not to harm us, but to be a part of a better America."
While Pataki pointed out that he is not a product of the more liberal New York City but rural New York, which is more conservative, he falls on the more moderate scale of Republican candidates, especially since he is pro-choice -- a position he didn't mention in his speech. His speech was, however, peppered with issues that appeal to the Republican base.
"I'd repeal oppressive laws like Obamacare and end Common Core," he said without noting that ending Common Core will be difficult since the education standards are adopted by the states.
"And I'd shrink the size of the federal work force, starting with bureaucrats overseeing Obamacare, and fire every corrupt IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion," he added.
In addition, Pataki said he would invoke a ban on members of Congress from lobbying.
"Today, there is one former member of Congress lobbying for every current member and the first thing I would do is ban members of Congress from ever lobbying. If you serve one day, you are banned, go home," he said.
His personal website, which sports a new "Pataki for President" banner, emphasizes that he'll place "people over politics."
- Leigh Ann Caldwell and Carrie Dann