Pataki casts his line
photo
New York Gov. George Pataki meets local fisherman Erik Anderson, president of the New Hampshire Fisherman’s Cooperative, in Portsmouth during a visit to the state on Thursday. At right is Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin of Portsmouth.
Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

PORTSMOUTH - New York Gov. George Pataki Thursday talked politics with residents over a bowl of chowder at Geno’s, heard from local fishermen about continued cuts to days at sea, and pledged his allegiance to the state’s first-in-the-nation primary.

But the three-term Republican said he still has no idea if he will run for president in 2008.

"It’s way too soon for anyone to make a decision," he said. "After the 2006 (congressional) elections we’ll give it serious thought."

Pataki, who is not running for re-election when his term ends this year, said for now, he is looking to "be part of the national dialogue and political debate."

This was Pataki’s third trip to the state since last October and his first visit to Portsmouth, where he said his uncle once lived while working at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Pataki made the proverbial Republican stop at Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop, helping owner Evelyn Marconi ladle out chowder for a handful of residents who had come to meet him. The group was almost outnumbered by the New York television reporters and photographers following the governor on his out-of-town visit.

Portsmouth chocolatier Darlene Inks asked Pataki what he would do to control rising oil prices "should he become president."

Calling the current situation a "nightmare," Pataki said the country must end its dependence on foreign oil. He said the United States should build more oil refineries, provide incentives to manufacturers who produce alternative fuel sources, and lower the gasoline tax.

In response to John McVay’s question about illegal immigrants, Pataki said the United States must control its borders better.

"It’s simply wrong that the greatest country in the world doesn’t know who’s coming here and whether they’re coming legally," he said.

In New York, 300 state police were added to patrol the Canadian border so "we don’t have to just rely on the federal government," Pataki said.

He said he was not in favor of a "3,000 mile wall" to prevent illegal immigration, but he said in more urban border areas the government should "do whatever it takes."

As for the state’s primary, Pataki called it an American tradition and said the first primary must stay in New Hampshire.

Before the sit-down at Geno’s, Pataki toured the New Hampshire Fishermen’s Cooperative on Peirce Island. Co-op president Erik Anderson told Pataki of the "blunt" federal regulations that further reduce days at sea for ground fishermen.

"Working two days a month on a boat isn’t going to pay off the bills," Pataki said.

Pataki said he would "talk with my guys in Montauk (N.Y.)" to see how fishermen there were faring. He said he hoped the New York and New Hampshire congressional delegations could work together to ease federal regulations.

Anderson and fisherman Randy Gauron said they appreciated Pataki’s interest and willingness to speak with residents informally.

"Hey, if he becomes president, maybe now I could give him a phone call," Anderson joked.




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