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Gov. George E. Pataki said Tuesday his longtime media consultant was "wrong and stupid" when he said Republicans have become the "party of the Christian right more so than in any other period in modern history."

Media guru Arthur Finkelstein also said the party's tilt to the right in President Bush's successful re-election campaign against Sen. John F. Kerry means that moderate Republicans like Pataki will find running for nationwide office "difficult" since the party's "political center has disappeared."

Finkelstein, who rarely speaks to the American media, made his comments earlier this month to Ma'ariv, a Hebrew-language Israeli daily newspaper.

Pataki disputed Finkelstein's analysis of Bush's victory, saying the Republicans exhibited support among a wide base of voters.

"I think the Republican Party is a big tent, and everyone from the president on down understands that," Pataki said.

Despite criticizing his remarks, Pataki said he does not want to part ways with Finkelstein.

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