Pataki To Visit Iowa, Weighs 2008 Bid

New York Gov. George Pataki (search) is weighing a presidential bid in 2008 amid speculation fueled by a trip to Iowa, the state whose caucuses kick off the White House selection process.

The moderate Republican is seriously looking at a re-election bid in 2006 and "the possibility of seeking national office in 2008," said a New York Republican familiar with Pataki's thinking. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity to not get ahead of the governor publicly.

Pataki planned to attend this weekend's National Governors Association meeting in Iowa, an event he has typically avoided in the past.

Last year, Pataki hired a new team of advisers with political experience in Iowa and he has courted Iowa politicians with events at the 2004 Republican National Convention (search) in New York City and at President Bush's inauguration in January.

Pataki has not yet said whether he will seek a fourth term as governor in 2006. His state campaign committee said Friday that in the past six months it had raised $785,811, far below the $8.95 million it reported in July 2001, 16 months before he easily won a third term.

Pataki's latest state filing showed his campaign committee had just $2.7 million in the bank. Four years ago, the committee already had more than $12 million on hand on the way to spending $45 million.

On Thursday, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (search), a Democrat running for governor, reported $12.3 million on hand.

Pataki aides said Friday that a filing in Virginia would show that his political action committee to finance any national activities had raised more than $1 million since the start of this year.

The Pataki camp sought to play down the lack of fund-raising activity, arguing that the governor had been busy working on legislation.

"Everyone knows that the governor is one of top fund-raisers in the nation and that he'll raise the necessary funds should he decide to seek re-election," said spokesman Kevin Quinn.

Pataki has been a tax-cutter and death penalty supporter but has also backed abortion and gay rights, and tough gun-control legislation, positions that do not sit well with conservatives who have controlled the GOP nominating process in recent years.