WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former New York Governor George Pataki entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party.
"It is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this government," he said in an announcement video titled "Pataki for President" posted on his website, georgepataki.com.
Pataki, who served three terms as governor from 1995 to 2006, has flirted with running for U.S. Senate or the presidency in past years.
He could represent a fairly moderate voice in the 2016 Republican presidential field, which includes a pack of staunch conservatives. As governor, Pataki declared himself an abortion rights advocate and signed tough gun control legislation.
More recently, he has criticized "religious freedom" bills that conservative candidates backed and called it "inappropriate" when Republican lawmakers wrote to Iranian leaders in a move largely seen as undermining Democratic President Barack Obama.
He launched a fundraising Super-PAC in January and has made appearances in New Hampshire and Florida, important states in the presidential nominating contests.
Pataki, 69, was a first-term state senator in New York when he narrowly beat Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo in the 1994 election.
After leaving the governor's office in 2007, Pataki was a delegate to the United Nations and started a business development firm focused on energy companies.
(Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Susan Heavey)