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D'Amato backs Kasich, not Pataki, for president

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks to a packed crowd during a campaign stop at the VFW in Derry, N.H., on Aug. 12, 2015. Photo Credit: AP / Jim Cole

ALBANY - Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato has chosen not to support his former protégé, George Pataki, for president but instead endorse Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

D'Amato said Kasich was the lone Republican who could be counted on to win Ohio, always one of the most crucial states in the presidential election.

"We Republicans need to capture the White House and, in order to do that, we must win Ohio," D'Amato said in a statement issued by Kasich's campaign. "John Kasich is the only candidate who can assure us of that victory."

D'Amato called Kasich "straight talking." He also noted Kasich's previous role as a congressman, saying he "knows the Pentagon, understands the military and understands the need for strength as well as a better managed Defense Department."

In backing Kasich, D'Amato ignored former New York Gov. George Pataki. Back in 1994, D'Amato hand-picked Pataki, then a little-known state senator from Garrison, as the GOP's candidate to take on then-Gov. Mario Cuomo. Pataki, of course, went on to win two more times while D'Amato was ousted by Charles Schumer in 1998.

Pataki now is running a long-shot campaign for president and probably could have used a boost. Determined by Fox News to be outside the top 10 GOP contenders, Pataki was relegated to a second-tier debate in Cleveland, along with six others, earlier this month.

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