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Pataki to visit Iowa ahead of possible 2012 bid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former New York Governor George Pataki plans to visit Iowa on Saturday as speculation mounts that he will jump into the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Pataki, who decided against a White House bid four years ago, has been "seriously considering" a run for the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama, and a decision will come soon, a spokesman said.

Pataki will attend a local party picnic in Iowa, which holds the first Republican nominating contest, and could announce his candidacy then.

"He is deeply disappointed by President Obama's utter failure of leadership on the debt issue and in the lack of real solutions being offered by the current Republican field of candidates," spokesman David Catalfamo said.

Pataki was first elected New York governor in 1994 and was re-elected twice, but as a moderate from the Northeast he would face a tough path to the nomination in a party that has become more conservative in recent years.

Other candidates attending the Saturday picnic in Iowa will be Texas Governor Rick Perry, a staunch conservative who entered the race barely more than a week ago, and U.S. Representatives Ron Paul and Thaddeus McCotter.

Some Republican activists and insiders are still unhappy with the party's 2012 field and have urged more candidates to get in. Others still considering a bid include former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan ruled out a bid on Monday.

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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