Former Gov. Pataki on Spitzer Scandal

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now reaction to all of this from former New York Governor George Pataki.

Governor, very good to have you here.


Watch Neil's interview with former NY Governor George Pataki

CAVUTO: Would you have ever envisioned this?

PATAKI: This is just something that stunned everyone, including me.

This is just so out of what we would have thought Eliot Spitzer`s character was. And I am just still in a state of shock, as I think the vast majority of New Yorkers are.

CAVUTO: You know, I got an inkling of it, Governor, not only in prior interviews — not this sort of stuff — but on his Inauguration Day. And, obviously, he meets with the former governor, the outgoing governor in your case, and your lovely wife, his lovely wife. It was very collegial, very nice, very, very, very classy.

And then he trashes you in his speech. So, I said, boy, this is not a good start.

PATAKI: Well, it was disappointing, but, you know, there is a transition in politics, and you — you take the good with the bad.

And the good was the fact that, for 12 years, I had the privilege of leading this state. And that was an unfortunate moment. And I imagine...

CAVUTO: How did you feel at that time?

PATAKI: I thought it was just not the most gracious thing I experienced, because I had a very tough race against Governor Cuomo 12 years before. And, of course, he was very kind, came to the inaugural. And I said nice things about him.

CAVUTO: You were complimentary.



But it is just one of those unfortunate incidents that happens in politics.

CAVUTO: Do you think he has suffered enough, that Governor Spitzer has suffered enough, that this talk of maybe indictments to come, maybe he goes to jail, but it — has he suffered enough?

PATAKI: Well, obviously, he has suffered enormously, but far worse is what his family is suffering.

And you just really feel for them, because you know that, when you put yourself out for public office, you`re subject to all the potential upside and downside of it. But family members are not doing it voluntarily. They do it as part of a team and to be supportive of that team. And you can`t help but feel heartbroken for Silda and his daughters and his family.

And the process has to go forward. And I am sure it will in a fair and objective way. And we will see where it turns out.

CAVUTO: What do you know about the incoming Governor Paterson?

PATAKI: I will tell you, David Paterson is a terrific guy.

He and I were friends back when we were both state legislators. He was the Democratic leader of the state senate while I was governor. And the last few years, we had an open budget process, where we had the five leaders in front of the cameras.

And David was very constructive. He was understanding. He was not grandstanding and posturing. So, I don`t think we had the same political philosophy at all. But, when it comes to listening, being respectful of others, understanding that, for all the power the governor has, you have to work with the legislature to pass any sort of legislation, he has that experience.


CAVUTO: You had tough relations with Republican legislatures.

PATAKI: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: So, I am wondering if anything can get done these days...


CAVUTO: ... if even Republicans fight among themselves, Democrats fighting among themselves.


PATAKI: Neil, I am optimistic that, in Albany, you have had this for the last 14 months. You had this bitter divide. And it was not just partisan. It was a personal divide.

I mean, when you try to put someone in jail because they are standing up to you politically, that is not the way to try to find consensus. But I think now, Republicans, Democrats, the assembly, the senate, are all going to understand that this has never happened before, and this is a time to put aside personal agendas, political agendas, and work on what is right for the future of this state.

And David Paterson has the personality to reach out and be inclusive and be nonpartisan.

So, I am an optimist. You know...

CAVUTO: You know the financial community very well, Governor. And they kind of had an attitude a couple of days ago, when this broke, ding- dong, the witch is dead. We`re glad that he`s dead.

Should they be?

PATAKI: I don`t think so. I don`t think you ever take satisfaction in someone else`s fall.

CAVUTO: Well, I think what they were saying, Governor, is, our worst sheriff, our worst nightmare is gone. No one — no one is checking on us anymore.

PATAKI: Well, that — that would just be wrong, because, on the one hand, you can get overzealous prosecutors who try to criminalize custom to advance their political career. And that is wrong.

But, on the other hand, look at the financial crisis we have now. We need people who have the courage and the integrity to stand up and look at the most powerful people in the financial or other private sector, and hold them accountable.

CAVUTO: All right.

Governor, thank you very much.

People don`t realize, in retrospect, a Republican in New York, three terms in New York. It really is a remarkable achievement.

PATAKI: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Very good seeing you, Governor.

PATAKI: Good seeing you.


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