OTR Interviews

Pataki: Bush Is A Strong Leader

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren, August 30, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Earlier today, I had a chance to sit down with New York governor George Pataki, who will be introducing the president to the delegates on Thursday.

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GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: I'm ready, and I'm very excited about it. And I'm not really nervous because I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about the president, and that's something that for me is easy.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going to say?

PATAKI: I'm just going to try to let the people of America see what I understand this president means. He's a terrific leader. He's a very straight-shooting, honest guy. He's got his heart that's bigger than you could ever imagine, and I think the American people need to know that.

VAN SUSTEREN: How important is this convention to New York?

PATAKI: It's important to New York. We want to show a lot of people who've never been here before and the millions who are watching that this is a great city, that for all our diversity comes strength. This is the most exciting place in the world.

And I think we're going to have the greatest convention, an exciting convention. I just hope that all the people who see it on TV say, Hey, I got to get out there and see what New York is really like.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does it end up being more expensive for the state or for the city, or with all the influx of the media, does it end up to be money making or even, a wash?

PATAKI: Well, I think it's going to be a great boom to New York. You know, I don't think you can measure the economic consequences of what happens over the next seven days. But I think there are going to be people who've never been here before who say, My God, what a great, exciting place.

So I think the long-term benefits from people seeing the excitement and how great New York is going to be helpful for a long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are we going to see any kind of debate or battle over any particular issues as we sort of march towards the nomination process this year?

PATAKI: I don't think so. I think we're united behind this president and the vice president and their leadership. You know, these are probably the most difficult times I've seen.

We're in a war against terrorists who want to attack us again. We're coming out of what was a terrible recession, and the president's creating more jobs. And I think we're just going to be united behind this president, behind the vice president, and hopefully, propel him to the formal part of the campaign Thursday night and send him on the way to a great victory.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are the two tickets really different?

PATAKI: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: In what way? What's the biggest difference?

PATAKI: I think they're profoundly different, everything from philosophy to the people they are. And I don't want to be critical of the senator here, but I have to tell you that one of the great things about President Bush, whether you agree with him or not on every single issue, this is a man who's honest, who's a strong leader.

He doesn't take a poll to decide what he should do when he believes the interests of the people of America is at stake. This is a president who's a leader, and he does what he thinks is right for us. And I think his leadership has been extraordinary. I'm just very proud that he's our president.

VAN SUSTEREN: There's been a lot of criticism of the Democratic convention that they put the moderates up. Same criticism of the Republican Party. We're going to see all the moderates in primetime. Deliberate?

PATAKI: We're supporting the president. It's that simple.

VAN SUSTEREN: But where's the -- where are people who are -- you know, the -- we didn't see the far left in Boston, we're not seeing the far right at night here.

PATAKI: Well, I don't know who picked the schedule, but I do know that what we're going to do is present a united front behind a great president. And I think that's what this convention is all about.

Let the American people see and hear the president Thursday night. Let them hear the rest of us talk about the leadership that this president has provided.

And we have a very diverse party, but we're united on so many things that, ultimately, I think what we are most united on is our belief in America, in our people and in our freedom.

We don't want government that's weak in the face of attacks to our freedom. We don't want a government that's going to take our money and run our economy and try to run our lives. What unites us is so much more than what might seem to divide us, particularly when you look at the ticket of the other party. And I think we have to get that message across to the American people because it doesn't just unite us as Republicans, it unites us with the overwhelming majority of the American people.

VAN SUSTEREN: I couldn't help but notice you've made seven trips to New Hampshire, and this week, you're going to be honored by the New Hampshire GOP. 2008 -- you got your eye on that one?

PATAKI: New Hampshire's right nearby. You know, I'm the governor of New York.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you're just a visitor.

PATAKI: You know, Greta, we shouldn't even be thinking about 2008. We got to be thinking about 2004. Politics, things can change in a day, and they certainly change dramatically in four years.

But what we have to do is focus on the next 10 weeks and do everything we can to make sure that this strong leader for America, this outstanding president continues in office.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I sort of look ahead because, I mean, as we look ahead to the week, I'm sort of looking ahead, as well, to 2008.

Do you think that the Republican Party -- you're pro-choice. Do you think the Republican Party will see a pro-choice candidate?

PATAKI: I don't think there's ever been an issue that determines our candidate. It's the philosophy. And our philosophy as a party, as I said, believes in empowering people, trusting people, not government elites who want to tell us what to do from thousands of miles away, not people who think they're smarter than the average working American.

We have faith in the people. That's what our party believes in. That's what our policies and principles do, empower people with the ability to lead their lives. And I think not just 2008 but in 2004, that philosophy is what America needs and what the American people want.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, excluding President Bush and Vice President Cheney and yourself, is there any particular speech that you're particularly excited to hear this week?

PATAKI: Oh, I want to hear them all.

VAN SUSTEREN: There must be one you're waiting for.

PATAKI: Greta, I'm looking forward to all of them. You know, this only happens once every four years, and it's never happened in New York before. So I'm going to be paying attention. I'm going to be out there on the floor, waving my flag, having a good time and cheering with the rest of us, as we show the American people what a great party this is for America.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Governor, thank you very much. Nice to see you. We may see you in 2008 up on the stage.

PATAKI: I'm happy to be up on the stage Thursday night, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Nice to see you, Governor. Thank you.

PATAKI: Nice to see you. Thank you.

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