Former New York Gov. George Pataki on Thursday launched his long-shot bid for president, vowing to reduce the size of the federal government and use military force if necessary to “defeat and destroy” the growing threat of Islamic militants in the Middle East.
Mr. Pataki, who served as governor from 1995 to 2006, said he wants to restore the American dream, protect working Americans and defend the freedoms that “have given us the greatest country we have ever known.”
“It is to preserve and protect that freedom for us that I stand here today,” Mr. Pataki said at the announcement event in Exeter, New Hampshire.
“It is to preserve and protect that freedom for future generations that I speak. It is to preserve and protect that freedom that this morning I announce I am candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States!” he said.
Mr. Pataki is the eighth candidate to enter the GOP nomination fight.
His announcement comes a day after former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said he is mounting his second White House bid and a few days ahead of expected announcements from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Mr. Pataki faces a steep climb. The 69-year-old does not register on the latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls.
On Thursday, Mr. Pataki said he has not forgotten the lessons he learned on his watch from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“I saw up close the horrible consequences of too many believing that because radical Islam was thousands of miles away across an ocean that we were safe in America,” he said. “Sadly, it wasn’t true then, and it is not true now.”
Mr. Pataki said he wants to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and to confront the Islamic State, or ISIS, saying he will stop terrorist threats abroad before they have the chance to launch attacks on American soil.
“If necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy ISIS so they can pose no threat to us here,” he said.
Back home, Mr. Pataki said he would secure the border and will push to get the “oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”
He said he would ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists and force lawmakers to live under the same laws as everyone else.
Mr. Pataki vowed to repeal Obamacare and stop the K-12 Common Core education standards that have been adopted by some states.
He said he would push to reduce taxes of small business and manufacturers, simplify the federal tax code and fire every IRS employee that has “discriminated on the basis of politics and religion.”
“Government has grown too big, too powerful, too expensive, too intrusive,” Mr. Pataki said. “Washington politicians and bureaucrats believe they know better than us and can tell us how to live our lives — from what health care each of us must have, to trying to dictate to every child in every school what they must learn.”
He also took a few shots at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee for president.
“No one will be above the law,” he said. “Even if you are a former secretary of state whose name happens to be Clinton.”