The Definitive H&H George Pataki Scouting Report

After considering a presidential run in previous cycles, the former New York governor takes the plunge.

What he’s got: Underrated intellect, foreign policy smarts, and political savvy; executive experience dealing with a dysfunctional government in New York state; personal and professional maturity.

What he lacks: National name recognition; potential in Iowa and South Carolina; a clear and plausible path to the nomination that doesn't involve the self-immolation of a good portion of the field.

Biggest question mark: Can a man who seems mild-mannered and establishmentarian effectively drive an outsider, Tea Party-friendly message of smaller government?

Message: We the people need to take our government back from out-of-touch elites.

Core constituencies: Social moderates.

Signature issues: Reining in government spending; realism in foreign policy; emphasis on fiscal policy and economics over social issues.

Fundraising mojo: Despite New York base, unlikely to be a big-time bundler, but could bag some super-PAC sugar mamas and papas to keep him on the air and in the game through New Hampshire.

Spouse and family: Wife, Libby; two daughters; and two sons who have both served in the military make up a supportive, accomplished, telegenic clan.

Perceived electability as GOP nominee: Needs to establish a greater national reputation to prove he could hold onto the red states (and not turn off pro-life voters) and play strong in the Northeast and Midwest.

National-security credentials: Earned exposure to foreign policy as a United Nations delegate, world traveler, and rigorous observer, but lacks the résumé or profile of some of his rivals.

Television skills: Almost always acquits himself well, with confidence and manifest knowledge—but almost never breaks through with a tight message, humor, or personality; could use an on-camera “moment of strength" soon.

Social media/online chops: At the bottom of the heap in terms of Twitter followers, hasn’t yet flashed the sort of brand likely to light things up online.

Media coverage: Regularly answers bookers’ calls, but rarely gets the highest-profile opportunities; overall coverage suffers from perception that he is both old news and weak presidential timber among East Coast journalists who covered him in the Nineties and Aughts.

Polling strength: Still not registering above the margin of error nationally or in any state.

The Big Mo: Nothing much stirring so far, but has a few endorsements in New Hampshire, a state that is a good cultural fit for him.

Fire in the belly: Finally taking the plunge after passing up a run in earlier cycles, but still seems to approach the race more as intellectual pursuit than passion-fueled mission.

The hang test: Undervalued retail skills and ability to talk rural, military, and working-class issues, but a style and sense of humor that can be too dry for some.

Challenges party orthodoxy: Pro-choice on abortion; signed significant gun-control measure as governor, which he said he hoped would be a "national model," drawing criticism from the NRA.

Best moment of 2016 cycle so far: Fiery, strong speech at a recent South Carolina cattle call.

Worst moment of 2016 cycle so far: Low-key, off-key presentation at an early Iowa agriculture cattle call.

Best Bloomberg Politics moment: Yucked it up at St. Patrick’s Day breakfast roast.

GOP Hopefuls Make 'Em Laugh at Wild Irish Breakfast

Picture he doesn’t want you to see: Outshined and overshadowed by Rudy Giuliani in the immediate wake of 9/11.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R) gives a tour of the World Trade Center attack site to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (C) and New York Governor George Pataki (L) 18 September, 2001, in New York.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, right, gives a tour of the World Trade Center attack site to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, center, and New York Governor George Pataki on Sept. 18, 2001, in New York.

Photographer: Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images
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