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Former N.Y. governor Pataki talks politics in Concord

Last modified: 2/9/2015 4:43:50 PM
George Pataki was back in New Hampshire this week for a mix of retail stops, meetings with potential campaign supporters and conversations with state legislators. It was his fourth trip to the state since November.

The former New York governor and prospective Republican presidential candidate’s trip this time included a brief visit to Quality Cash Market, where he fielded questions on political corruption, vaccination and his policy priorities if he ultimately decides to run.

Olivia Zink, a staffer with the American Friends Service Committee, wasted no time questioning Pataki when he arrived at the store, asking about the influence of lobbyists on public policy, specifically on a provision known as the “detention bed mandate” that established a quota for beds reserved for those detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Pataki didn’t directly comment on that policy, but he said he would back a “lifetime ban on ever being a lobbyist in Washington” for those who have served in Congress as one step toward reducing the influence of special interests on public policy.

And in a week where other potential presidential candidates have been asked for their stances on vaccination policy, Pataki affirmed his support for mandatory immunization against whooping cough, measles and other illnesses.

“You know, I thought it was settled when George Washington immunized the troops ... against smallpox 240 years ago,” Pataki said, referencing the first president’s decision to inoculate soldiers fighting in the Revolutionary War. “And I just don’t think it’s right that we have so many people who send their kids to school without immunization.”

Tony Heath, Quality Cash’s owner, is a familiar face for politicians stopping through the state. Just above the exit to the store, the wall is lined with pictures of him posing with Mitt Romney, John McCain and other politicians.

“Do we have a camera?” Heath wondered aloud a few minutes after Pataki showed up at the store. “I need a picture so we can put it up with the rest of them.”

Sure enough, the prospective candidate didn’t leave without posing for a portrait of his own – and picking up a quick snack – on his way out.

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)


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