Photo Credit:
George Pataki being interviewed at his law office, Chadbourne & Parke LLP, in Manhattan.

Some might say we’ve been down this path before. You contemplated running for president in 2008 and 2012. Is this time different?

This time is very different. If you look at the global situation, America’s position internationally is the weakest it’s been in decades. Our allies don’t trust us, our enemies don’t fear us, and our military is the weakest it’s been in quite some time.

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If you look at it domestically, you see a government that continues to impose its will on the people of America, a government that believes this narrow small group of elites know better than we do how to live our lives, and want impose their views – whether it’s on Obamacare or how we run our businesses. The need for change is the greatest I’ve seen in my lifetime. We need to change Washington, the culture of Washington, so that the politicians understand they’re supposed to do what the people tell them. The people are not supposed to do what the politicians tell them. It was that way in New York; it’s that way in Washington now, sadly, but I know I have the ability to change that.

The current administration has often been labeled as hostile to Israel, especially in recent months; do you have any reaction to Obama’s treatment of and relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel in general?

It’s just dreadful that the democratically elected prime minister of a close ally, when he comes to the United States, is not greeted with open arms. The Obama administration’s treatment of Bibi Netanyahu has been, in my view, just incomprehensible and wrong. It seems the administration is more comfortable sitting down with the Iranian team than with the Israeli team. That’s not America, that’s not in our interest, and it’s certainly not in Israel’s interests. So that’s been very disappointing to me, and I think it has been to many other Americans as well.

Domestically, when Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it received pushback from more liberal states like New York. But many religious citizens feel the law is necessary to protect their right to practice their beliefs.

Indiana did the right thing in amending the law to conform to the federal law. The federal law, I believe, does provide safeguards for religious institutions, or it should, and to have it consistent with the federal law – as Arkansas amended its laws to do the same thing –was the right decision. We have to respect religion. We have to respect people’s freedom of religion; it’s one of the guarantees in our Bill of Rights.

People have pointed to Hillary Clinton’s age as a factor. She’s 67. You are two years older than she is.

A year and a half!

Should voters be concerned?

The last time that question was seriously raised was when Ronald Reagan was running, and apparently that seemed to work out pretty well. There is a lot to be said for someone who has experience, who has led a major government, who has seen both the public and the private sector.

Contrast the youth and the inexperience of Barack Obama with the wisdom and experience of a Ronald Reagan. I think the American people understand that it’s the person – the experience and the vision of that person – that ultimately matters.

Is there anything else you want to share with Jewish Press readers?

I just want to say how grateful I am for the wonderful relationship I had with the Jewish community in New York during my twelve years as governor. It was a tremendous privilege to lead this state, and an honor I will always be proud of. I always tried to do my best to represent the interests of everyone in the state, and the fact that I had such a strong relationship with so many in the Jewish community is a matter of great gratitude to me today.

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Shlomo Greenwald is the senior editor of The Jewish Press.
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