Pataki visits N.C. to endorse Ballantine


George Pataki was a Republican state senator from New York in 1994 when he won an upset victory against a Democratic incumbent to become the state’s governor.

At an airport hangar here yesterday, Pataki told Patrick Ballantine that he could do the same thing next week in North Carolina.

Pataki spoke to a cheering, partisan crowd of 100 gathered at Piedmont Triad International Airport. He asked North Carolinians to support Ballantine’s conservative record and his promise to cut taxes, and he criticized Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat, for supporting past tax increases.

“When you raise taxes, you get fewer jobs. When you lower taxes, you get more jobs. There are still some governors who haven’t figured that out,” Pataki said. If North Carolina elects Ballantine, he said, “You’re going to get a conservative who understands the people of this state.”

Pataki gave few concrete reasons to back up his endorsement. He gave Ballantine credit for eliminating a cap on the number of people who could be held in state prisons. Legislators imposed the cap in 1987, and the cap was lifted after a spree of prison construction that be-gan prior to Ballantine becoming a legislator.

Asked after his speech why Ballantine would make a good governor, Pataki cited high ratings from conservative groups, such as Citizens for a Sound Economy.

“It’s not just what you say during a cam-paign. It’s what you do,” Pataki said.

Before yesterday, Ballantine and Pataki had met once, at this summer’s Republican National Convention. They attended a fund-raiser immediately before yesterday’s rally.

Most statewide polls show Easley with a commanding lead over Ballantine, and Easley has outspent Ballantine by a wide margin.

Ballantine asked supporters yesterday to show their grass-roots strength by putting up signs, handing out bumper stickers and bringing friends to the polls.

“Get everybody you know to go to the polls!” Ballantine shouted.

“I know we can do it. I just need your help,” he said.

Pataki also took time to promote the broader Republican ticket. He accused former President Clinton of failing to deal with terrorism, despite several attacks in the 1990s, and he said that President Bush has taken the right actions since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Thank God we had President Bush, who understood we couldn’t wait until they attacked us again,” Pataki said. “Because George W. Bush is our president, they have never attacked America again.”

Pataki is the longest-serving active governor in the country. His third term will end in two years.

He has not said publicly what his future plans are, though he s spending much of this week traveling the country to support other Republicans.

He also visited New Hampshire, Maryland and Florida yesterday, and is scheduled to campaign in Iowa, Washington and other states.

• David Ingram can be reached in Raleigh at (919) 833-9916 or at

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