- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Former Gov. George Pataki is reportedly considering running for president in 2016, though a former aide said Tuesday that talk of a campaign is premature.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that Pataki is privately weighing whether to enter the wide-open Republican field. The paper says Pataki recently met with influential GOP donor David Koch at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City.

Pataki served three terms as governor after winning election in 1994. He was mentioned as a potential presidential contender before the 2008 and 2012 elections. Since leaving office in 2006, he launched a consulting firm and joined Chadbourne and Parke, a New York City-based law firm.

Messages left for Pataki by The Associated Press weren’t returned Tuesday.

If the 69-year-old moderate Republican is serious about running for president in 2016, he would join at least two other New Yorkers believed to be eyeing a White House run - Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats.

David Catalfamo, a former top Pataki adviser, told the AP that speculation about Pataki may be fueled by his recent criticism of President Barack Obama, his work to highlight government debt and rising terrorism worries. He noted that Pataki and Koch are friends and that their meeting shouldn’t be taken as evidence of Pataki’s presidential plans.

“Any chatter like that is dramatically premature,” he said.

New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox dismissed questions about Pataki’s future Tuesday, saying he’s focused on this year’s elections.

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