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Gov. Pataki Dodges Question on Saddam-9/11 Claims

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Top Republican Party officials and journalists attended a media party for delegates and journalists over the weekend. Inside the party, Mayor Michael Bloomberg evades Democracy Now!’s questions about his support for the invasion of Iraq, Gov. George Pataki discusses security and 9/11 and Helen Thomas reminds people to remember the dead in Iraq. [includes rush transcript]

Hundreds of companies, trade associations and other lobbying groups are spending millions of dollars this week around New York City to entertain top members of the Republican Party in town for the convention.

Campaign finance and ethics rules allow special interests almost unlimited spending at conventions. This provide corporations the opportunity to wine and dine delegates and Party officials. Over two hundred parties are planned this week alone.

The first big party was for delegates and journalists. It was thrown by media conglomerate Time Warner on Saturday. Democracy Now! was there.

I tried to ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg whether he supported the invasion of Iraq. He refused to answer the question and his aides escorted him away. Over the course of the night, I tried asking him the same question four times. Each time I was denied an answer. An aide to Bloomberg eventually approached me.

  • Aide to Mayor Bloomberg argues with Amy Goodman at the Time Warner media party.

That was an aide to mayor Michael Bloomberg on Saturday at the Time Warner media party.

Later in the evening I saw New York Gov. George Pataki. Pataki is among those politicians who have suggested links between the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Iraq. At a rally at Ground Zero in April of last year, he suggested that the statue of Saddam Hussein that was toppled in Baghdad should be melted down and then forged into a girder for the new buildings to be erected where the Twin Towers once stood.

  • Gov. George Pataki, at the Time Warner Media Party 8/28/04.

That was Gov. George Pataki at Saturday’s media party sponsored by Time Warner. I then bumped into veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas.

  • Helen Thomas, Veteran White House correspondent at the Time Warner Media Party 8/28/04.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The first big party for the delegates and the journalists was thrown by media conglomerate Time-Warner on Saturday. Democracy Now! was there. Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the same time that he is welcoming the Republican National Convention, throwing the party in a democratic city, has tried to distance himself at times from President Bush. But at the same time, is here to be a main person in this party that is taking place this week. At the Time-Warner celebration, I tried to ask Mayor Michael Bloomberg whether he supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He refused to answer the question. His aides continually escorted him away. Though he was talking with reporters throughout the party. I tried to ask him the question three or four times. Security guards, the aides, continually pushed me away. And they said that I was harassing him. Each time the mayor would look at me, and he would then turn away. An aide to Bloomberg eventually approached me.

BLOOMBERG AIDE: You’re harassing him.

AMY GOODMAN: I am not harassing — if I what?

BLOOMBERG AIDE: If you keep harassing him.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m not harassing him, I’m asking him a question. The mayor is answering questions from reporters, he’s at a press party. I’m asking him a question.

BLOOMBERG AIDE: I know. Try to do it without trying to block his path.

AMY GOODMAN: I did not block his path. I was behind him. I’m being been very respectful.

AMY GOODMAN: An aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg Saturday at the Time-Warner media party. At about the same time I was in pursuit of the mayor to ask him whether he supported the invasion, I bumped into New York Governor George Pataki and asked him the same line of questioning.

AMY GOODMAN: Governor Pataki, do you support the president’s invasion of Iraq?

GEORGE PATAKI: I’m not going to talk about that. There’s no question. You know, you’re here in New York, and we were attacked. And we know there are those around the world who want to attack us again. And I think the president has provided an extraordinary leadership to help protect us from those who would launch those attacks.

AMY GOODMAN: Governor, you said you wanted to take a piece of Saddam’s statue and put it in the foundation of the World Trade Center? Why? Do you think there was a link?

GEORGE PATAKI: Well, there’s no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein was an evil man and a terrorist in his own right.

AMY GOODMAN: That was New York Governor George Pataki. Again asking him about his statement that he wanted to take a piece of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square that the U.S. military had pulled down and put it into the new foundation of a new World Trade Center. He wouldn’t answer completely. If in fact they do do that, take the piece of the statue and put it into the foundation, it may be the first time that there is a link between Iraq and 9/11. Well, at the party, there were thousands of journalists. We bumped into a veteran correspondent, White House reporter Helen Thomas, who’s covered for 50 years the presidents of this country. And asked her what was on her mind.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the Bush administration?

HELEN THOMAS: I think that they don’t understand what war is all about. 14 children — I’m sorry, 14 people were killed in Fallujah today, eight children. Why are Americans killing people [inaudible]?

AMY GOODMAN: Helen Thomas at the Time-Warner celebration of reporters.

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