Polling at Less Than 1 Percent, Pataki Sets Sights on Staying Viable in N.H.

Nov 19, 2015

George Pataki knows he's got a long way to go toward a primary victory, but he's staying optimistic.
Credit Allegra Boverman, NHPR

George Pataki’s polling average in New Hampshire is hovering under one percent, and he was shut out of the most recent "undercard" debate — but he’s not planning to bow out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination anytime soon.

The former New York governor filed for the New Hampshire primary Thursday afternoon, surrounded by a handful of supporters who accompanied him to the ceremony.

Reading this story on your iPhone or iPad? Download NHPR's new State of Democracy app and stay connected to the stories that matter from the 2016 campaign trail. Click here to get the app.

At the State House, a reporter asked Pataki if he’d thought about the possibility of dropping out of the race — particularly as governors who struggled to gain traction have dropped out, most recently Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

“You know, I have thought about it, but I get encouraged all the time,” Pataki said. “You know, I’m not naïve. I know what the national polls say. But when I come to New Hampshire, when I go to Iowa, when I go to South Carolina — people come up to me all the time and say, ‘You have to stay in. You are the person who can lead this country. You are the person, as a Republican, who can win this election.' ”

Pataki said he even got some encouragement from a few of the Jeb Bush supporters who had lingered outside after the former Florida governor’s filing an hour earlier.

Looking ahead to the actual election, Pataki said he’s hoping that a respectable showing in the New Hampshire primary will cause potential supporters to take a closer look at his candidacy. He did not identify what kind of primary results he would need in order to stay viable in future contests, though.

And what does Pataki plan to do leading up to the primary to make more of an impression on voters?

“Just spend a lot more time here, making the case, meeting the people,” Pataki said. “Whatever it takes.”

Even “shoveling sidewalks,” he added with a smile.