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CLEVELAND - Former Gov. George Pataki, who ran the state from 1995 to 2006, arrived here Wednesday on the eve of the first Republican presidential debate. He chatted with Newsday after participating in SiriusXM satellite radio forum at a hotel just blocks away from Quicken Loans Arena, the site of tomorrow's event. He talked about pondering a presidential run before, missing campaigning, creating a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants and Fox News' decision on the debate. As a Republican who once campaigned vigorously for Hispanic votes, he bashed Donald Trump for saying many Mexicans were criminals.
Some quick hits from that conversation:
---"The only thing I really miss is being part of the public dialog. I miss the interaction with people ... I've always loved campaigning, whether it was running for mayor of Peekskill, running for governor or running for president."
--- "I've thought about running before ... But I feel government has gotten off the track. If things had been going great, I don't think I'd be doing this. I've never seen Americans as divided in our lifetime."
--- "I think it's wrong that TV decides who is a credible candidate. It's all about name recognition at this point, and if you're the host of a reality TV show or the relative of a president, your name recognition is going to be up there." (Regarding Fox picking 10 Republicans to participate in a prime time debate and relegate the other seven, including him, to an earlier forum; and referring to Donald Trump and Jeb Bush).
--- "We have to control our border ... But I would create a pathway to citizenship for those (immigrants) who have been here (for five years) and haven't broken any laws. Part of it would be signing a pledge acknowledging they've broken the law and promising not to again. And I'd have a community service component, 200 hours of community service."
--- "'No amnesty' is a great sound bite. But no one in his right mind thinks you're going to send 11 million people on buses back to where they came from."
--- "I was the first candidate to (criticize) Trump. To demonize any group, in this case Mexicans, is outrageous. I'm disappointed that so many of my colleagues haven't stood up to condemn those comments."
--- Hillary Clinton's ... philosophy is to divide people. To tell women they have to be protected against their fellow Americans, to tell minorities they have to be protected against their fellow Americans and to say Republicans hate the middle class, and that's all nonsense. You may be able to score political points, but can't ultimately lead without bringing people together."
--- "I would be far more proactive in protecting our freedom ... We have to destroy ISIS and their training camps and recruiting centers over there before they have a chance (to attack the United States).
--- "I'd make a permanent ban on anyone serving in (Congress) then being a lobbyist in Washington."
--- "I'd make taxes simpler ... I'd lower (rates) and have fewer brackets. I'd keep the research credit, the home mortgage credit and the child credit ... But I'd throw out all the loopholes and carve outs and exemptions that lobbyists have been able to get for the powerful."
--- "I know if I get the nomination, I can win. And I know if I win, I can change things in Washington."