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Adding to an already crowded Republican presidential field, former New York Gov. George Pataki kicked off his bid for his party’s nomination on Thursday, releasing a YouTube announcement video that leans heavily on a crutch familiar to other presidential candidates from New York.
Much like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani did when he ran for president in 2008, Pataki’s nascent campaign isn’t shying away from using the imagery and rhetoric of 9/11 to reach national voters.
The four-minute campaign launch video is typical for the most part. Pataki, who served as Republican governor for three terms in a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic, expounds on his track record of bipartisan leadership and calls for a return of government to “we the people.” It’s all set against inspiring images of the New York City skyline and earnest video of the candidate speaking at small, townhall-style campaign events.
But just shy of the two-minute mark, things start to go—for lack of a better term—full 9/11. After a sudden cut to black, the video fades in on images of the One World Trade Center tower and the fountains of the Sept. 11 Memorial. It’s here that Pataki begins singing the praises of his own post-9/11 leadership.
“We have always understood that we have a common background and a common destiny and when we stand together we can accomplish anything,” Pataki says. “I saw that on the streets of New York in the days and weeks after Sept. 11. We understood we were all Americans who had been attacked and were going to rise up together and we did. We need to recapture that spirit, that sense that we are one people. When we do, we will stop empowering politicians and empower ourselves with the opportunities to have an unlimited and bright future.”
And as if that were not enough to cement Pataki’s connection to 9/11, several seconds later text appears on the screen reminding us that Pataki “led during the worst terrorist attack the U.S. had seen on American Soil” and that “His leadership inspired people of all backgrounds, factions, and beliefs to come together and work towards a better America.”
The video then seems to wrap up with a bit more talk about Americans uniting and “falling in love with America again.” But just when it appears to be done, we’re treated to Pataki standing in an office building, staring out a window Christian Grey-style, overlooking One World Trade Center and appearing to speak extemporaneously about what the tower means as a symbol of America “soaring to new heights” and refusing to “think small” or “live in fear.”
At this point, political pundits consider Pataki a presidential longshot, despite his reputation as a fiscal conservative who is socially moderate. While in office, the New York Times reports that Pataki “pushed through an average 20 percent reduction in state income taxes and cuts in state spending,” though he allowed spending to increase faster than inflation in his two subsequent terms. He’s also been a longtime supporter of alternative energy sources and signed a gay rights bill into law while encouraging fellow Republicans to give up the cause of blocking same-sex marriage.
But if his announcement video is any indication, Pataki may eschew his records and accomplishments to focus on an appeal to 9/11 patriotism—a tactic that did not lead to victory for Giuliani in 2008 and in fact led to the former mayor being routinely mocked in the media.
Photo via mateusz.czwakiel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Tim Sampson is a reporter who focused on the technology, business, and politics beats. He's also an established comedy writer, with work on Comedy Central and in The Onion and ClickHole.