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New York (AFP) — George Pataki, the former governor who led New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks, on Thursday threw his hat into the crowded ring of Republicans running for the White House.

Announcing his bid for the presidency in a brief video, the 69-year-old centrist made an emotional appeal for national unity and promised to make America great once again.

“What unites us is so much more important than what might seem superficially to divide us. If we are to flourish as a people we have to fall in love with America again,” he said.

The son of a postman, Pataki studied at Yale University and Columbia Law School. He played up his centrist credentials as a leader who could get things done across the United States’ fraught party lines.

“I was a Republican governor in a very deep blue state, the state of New York and I was governor for three terms and it’s because, at the end, people realized my vision was not a partisan vision it was a vision about people, about what we could accomplish together.”

His video closed with images of the new World Trade Center, the highest office building in the Western Hemisphere built after the 9/11 attacks and which Pataki was the first to name “Freedom Tower.”

It marks a first White House bid for Pataki, who was an ardent supporter of America’s last Republican president, George W. Bush and who has long flirted with the idea of contesting the presidency.

Married to Libby for 41 years, the couple have four children, including two sons who served in the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a daughter who is a best selling novelist.

“Washington has grown too big, too powerful, too expensive and too intrusive,” said Pataki. “It is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this government.”

More than a dozen prominent Republicans have already announced their bid to win the party’s nomination for the 2016 election.

Screenshot: Pataki for President 2016/YouTube

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Participants hold placards as they mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington D.C. on January 17, 2022

Washington (AFP) - Members of Martin Luther King Jr's family joined marchers Monday in Washington urging Congress to pass voting rights reform as the United States marked the holiday commemorating the slain civil rights leader.

King's son Martin Luther King III spoke at the march, warning that many states "have passed laws that make it harder to vote" more than half a century after the activism of his father.

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