WMURPoliticalScoop.com reports that "Former New York Gov. George Pataki will fly to New Hampshire to watch “The New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate” with friends on Monday night ... Pataki, who has not ruled out a bid for president this year, will not be in the debate hall itself, an aide says."
Under the auspices of the group No American Debt, Pataki today announced in an email that he'll be holding "a coffee and discussion group in Manchester, NH, on Tuesday morning to analyze GOP presidential candidates’ performance in the previous night’s New Hampshire primary debate."
"Pataki, who is honorary chair of No American Debt, will focus the conversation on the 2012 presidential candidates’ positions on budget issues and their specific plans to reduce the national debt," the email explains. "The event, which is open to the public, will be held at Chez Vachon in Manchester, NH, beginning at 10:30 am."
On Friday, Pataki published an op-ed in New Hampshire's Union Leader, which urged GOP candidates in tonight's debate to focus on the debt.
What does all this mean? Here's how political strategist Mike Murphy explained it last week in Time magazine:
Former New York governor George Pataki is airing a new ad on a Granite State TV station, WMUR. The ad comes from a Pataki-sponsored group called No American Debt and is perfectly attuned to New Hampshire’s flinty primary electorate. So while others are playing cat and mouse with reporters, inspecting farms in Iowa with more hogs than people and pleading with legions of self-appointed Tea Party generalissimos, Pataki is running a very effective spot in New Hampshire.
I saw it and had to smile. My bet? Pataki is going to try to steal the New Hampshire primary: First, ignore all the silly inside games and get on television pronto with a good message. Move up quietly in the polls — with Mitt Romney sitting at a third of the vote, Palin unelectable and Tim Pawlenty drifting near the margin of error, Pataki could televise his way into second or third place in Granite State polls by midsummer. Then let the national media discover the Pataki surge and get bonkers about it. With that national attention, reboot the once massive Pataki money machine in New York State and start attracting more national money and support. Light the right match, and if it combusts correctly, stand back and watch the fire grow.
Murphy's obviously (and probably overly) optimistic. But he's probably right in assessing what's currently on George Pataki's mind.