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Pataki on 9/11: 'I never look forward to this day'

George Pataki, former governor of New York, speaks

George Pataki, former governor of New York, speaks to the media in Cleveland on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Credit: Bloomberg News / Andrew Harrer

ALBANY - George Pataki, who was New York governor during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and now a Republican presidential candidate, was slated to make eight television and radio appearances Friday as many programs focused on anniversary coverage.

"I never look forward to this day," Pataki said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "It was such a horrible, horrible day."

The former governor, who was in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, recalled getting a phone call from one of his daughters after the first hijacked jet crashed into the World Trade Center and walking through the streets of lower Manhattan afterward. 

Turning to politics, Pataki said the unity forged that day has been forgotten.

"I think American people have forgotten the lesson," Pataki said. "We came together as Americans. We put aside petty differences. We weren't Republicans or Democrats. We weren't black or white, young or old. We were Americans. ... We have to recapture that. It's just tragic today that, 14 years later, we are as divided as I've ever seen."

Pataki, in so many words, said that some of his rivals for the Republican nomination aren't focused on uniting the public, either. A main pitch of his presidential campaign is that he worked across party lines during his 12-year tenure as governor from 1995 to 2006.

"I see all the Republican candidates up there saying 'I'm going to do this. I'm going to do that,' " Pataki said. "The only way we are going be able really change this country is put together a bipartisan consensus in Washington."

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