Former New York Governor George Pataki on Thursday announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Announcing his presidential bid in New Hampshire, Pataki acknowledged the steep incline he faces, saying that he beat the odds when he knocked off Democratic icon Mario Cuomo in his first run for governor in New York in 1994.

“No one had heard of me … I was a Republican in deep blue New York,” the told CNN. “It took me months to get a crowd like this, to go anywhere in New York, to think I had a chance. But you work hard, you have the right ideas and over time convince people that you are the person to lead the country.”

“I have always started at the bottom. I think it is the best way to do it. You appreciate something more when you earn it,” he added.

In a four-minute announcement video, Pataki said: “If we are to flourish as a people, we have to fall in love with America again.”

In an ad that began airing in mid-April in New Hampshire, Pataki said that issues such as terrorism and the economy trump social issues such as “abortion and gay rights.”

Pataki, who signed a gay protections bill as governor, has previously said that the issue of marriage should be left up to the states. His personal position on marriage equality remains unclear.