Former N.Y. Gov. George Pataki says he's mulling a 2012 presidential bid

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) is weighing a bid for president in 2012, he said in an interview on ABC's "Top Line" on Monday. 

The former governor, known as a centrist Republican, served three terms in New York and was governor at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. 

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Pataki said Monday that he plans on taking a hard look at how the field of Republican hopefuls develops over the next year and that if he doesn't see the right candidate emerging, he could jump into the race.  

“What I'm going to be looking at is, do we have the right people out there who have that experience, who have experienced leadership, who have been challenged and who can bring people together — not just Republicans and conservatives, but conservatives [and] Democrats," Pataki said. "And make a decision on who else is out there, and whether or not they have those characteristics we need to be able to win this election and govern successfully.”   

Pataki was a rumored presidential contender in 2008, but decided against getting into the race. 

The former governor worked to raise his national profile during the 2010 cycle, spending several million dollars in support of Republican candidates through his Revere America PAC. The PAC mostly targeted Democrats who voted in favor of healthcare reform, including spending against House Democrats in his home state of New York. 

Pataki, who emerged from relative obscurity as the mayor of Peekskill, N.Y., to be elected governor in 1994, also took a jab at former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) Monday noting, "It was a challenging job, mayor of Peekskill, let me assure you," he said. "Twice the size of Wasilla."

Pataki said he would support Palin should she win the GOP nomination in 2012, but suggested he wouldn't be all that excited about it. 

The former governor pointed to his reluctant backing of Republican Carl Paladino in New York's gubernatorial race this fall as indicative of the posture he would take if Palin turned out to be the nominee in 2012.

"It was hard for me to support Carl Paladino. And I did that. So certainly if the choice is between [Palin] and President Obama, I don’t think I'd have any difficulty at all supporting Sarah Palin," he said.

The biggest hurdle for Pataki is his centrist record and reputation, something that's never an asset in a Republican presidential primary and looks like it could be a complete non-starter in 2012.     

Two key early states — Iowa and South Carolina — are hostile territory for centrist candidates. 

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