Pataki telling backers he’s planning to drop White House bid

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2015, file photo, George Pataki makes a point during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Pataki is telling supporters on Tuesday, Dec. 29, he's ready to drop his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

BERLIN, N.H. (AP) — Former New York Gov. George Pataki is telling supporters he’s ready to drop his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

A centrist Republican who led New York through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pataki failed to gain traction in a crowded field of candidates during an election season that has so far favored outsiders like billionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Bruce Breton, a local elected official and member of Pataki’s New Hampshire steering committee, said Pataki called him Tuesday afternoon to say he’d be exiting the race. Breton said Pataki’s campaign struggled to raise money and garner media attention.

“He said he couldn’t get any traction. He worked hard, it’s just a different type of year,” Breton said.

Ben Gamache, another member of Pataki’s New Hampshire steering committee, said he’d also spoken with Pataki earlier Tuesday.

He said it was too soon for him to relay Pataki’s intentions, but said the former governor had talked about the need to unify the party and the country.

Pataki is also telling supporters and reporters to tune into a “special announcement” on television and social media later Tuesday night.

Pataki had hung his hopes on doing well in early-voting New Hampshire, but he has barely registered in state or national polls.

He never made it onto a main GOP debate stage, where he would have had the chance to reach millions more viewers, and had trouble raising funds.

Pataki zeroed in on Trump during the undercard debate earlier this month, declaring the New York real estate mogul unfit to be president of the United States.

“Donald Trump is the Know-Nothing candidate of the 21st century and cannot be our nominee,” Pataki said.

Pataki told USA Today in November that he would drop out if another candidate who could unite the party emerged. “If someone emerged who I believe could unite the party and lead the country and win the election, then there’s no need to run,” he said.

Breton said he’s already been contacted by a number of other GOP campaigns and received a personal phone call from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who needs a strong finish in New Hampshire’s primary. For now, Breton isn’t ready to choose another candidate.

“I’m very saddened by it,” he said of Pataki’s departure from the race. “He’s a great guy.”

Pataki announced his candidacy by video in May.

“America has a big decision to make about who we’re going to be and what we’re going to stand for. The system is broken,” he said then. “The question is no longer about what our government should do, but what we should do about our government, about our divided union, about our uncertain future.”

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Colvin reported from Newark, New Jersey.

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