Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) decided not to run for the Senate this fall because he may have a higher goal in mind — the presidency, according to National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Cornyn said he had been trying to recruit Pataki to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for a year and a half, but Pataki announced this week he's not interested in the Senate.

"I talked to him yesterday, and he told me he wasn't going to do it," Cornyn told The Hill. "I've been talking to him for a year and a half, and I've been reading the polls. I think there's real opportunity there. But he's decided he's not running for it. My thought is, of course, he's rumored to be a potential candidate for president, and I think he's got his sights set on other offices, maybe including running for president. That'd be my guess."

Pataki told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that he wasn't interesting in running. His decision was seen as a blow to the GOP, who has had trouble recruiting a candidate to face Gillibrand.

Gillibrand has strong support from fellow N.Y. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and top White House officials -- both of whom helped clear the field of potential Democratic primary challengers.