Giuliani on conservatives, Iraq

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani talked with Radio Iowa earlier this evening — part of his first trip to Iowa as a candidate.  "I’ve been here in Iowa many times, always on behalf of other candidates. I’m practicing coming here on behalf of myself," Giuliani joked to me as I sat across the table from him and  aide Maria Comella sat nearby, head down, thumbs punching away on her blackberry.

Here’s the Radio Iowa story — there’s an audio link at the bottom with Giuliani’s answer to today’s petition from conservatives who (sort of) say they’ll never vote for him, plus Giuliani’s answer to whether he backs Bush’s statement today railing against Democrats for the withdrawal date on Iraq.

Next, I asked Giuliani for his perspective on the American electorate and what voters are thinking.

"I don’t know that I would say I’m the most traveled of the candidates, but I’m pretty close to it.  Over the last six or seven years I’ve been in most of the states, I think 45 or 46…been all over the country speaking, both political and non-political so I do think I have a feel for the American people and I think sometimes their views can be oversimplified by some of the polls that are taken," Giuliani replied.

"Such as?" I asked.

"Well, I think their views on the war can be oversimplieid.  I think Americans want to see us be strong and on offense against terrorism and I don’t think they want to see us go back on defense," Giuliani said.

"How about those polls which show you leading the Republican race?" I asked.

"Oh, I think those are the most, you know, unreliable in the sense of they just capture a feeling of right now and we’ve got a long way to go and so do a lot of the other candidates in making our case to the American people and those polls are going to change I imagine at least two or three times before the end result," Giuliani said.

"How do you view the Iowa campaign…" I started.

"Yes, this is a campaign we want to wage. I mean, what the polls do tell us is we’re competitive.  Some have us ahead.  Some have us behind but all of ’em have us in a competitive position with the other candidates, ahead of most of them, sometimes ahead of all of them so what that says is this is a race that we, in which we can do very well and the question is how do we develop it and how do we organize it and that’s what Jim is helping us with and that’s why we’re here today and it is true we got started a little bit later than John McCain or even Mitt Romney, I think two or three months later," Giuliani said.

"But you raised…" I started.

"Well, we got there.  Our fundraising was a little in, not symmetrical.  We raised almost nothing in January.  We raised a decent amount of February and then $10 million in March and that’s the part that makes me feel really good because it seems to me we’ve gotten our act together and we’re — although we started this three or four months later than the others and it doesn’t just reflect itself in money.  We’ve been getting our organization together.  The other thing I’d be interested in in all this money comparison is money in the bank because I think we’ve kind of organized ourselves well and we’ve got $11 million of it sitting in the bank so ultimately when all the reports get filed, everybody’s got to look at what’s that number because that’s the real number and we’ll see how far off we are there.  I mean, we may be far off.  We may not be," Giuliani said.

The final part of the interview was spent talking about his wife, Judith and her role in a Giuliani administration.  I started by saying I didn’t want a "rehash" of everything that’s been out there in the media about this subject the past few days, but Giuliani jumped in anyway.

"I can tell you the answer.  Judith, as she made clear, and then on some parts of if which Barbara Walters played later to show what she’s said — (Judith) has no interest in being in the cabinet. She has no particular interest in the political issues that I’m interested in.  We love each other and respect each other very much.  We have very separate careers.  I’m a lawyer and a former mayor and a politician.  She’s a nurse and a charitable fundraiser and a person who cares about health and her whole objective in answering that question was to say that her interest would be in helping people to be healthy, in helping people to learn about the risk of heart attack, the risk of cancer, how to deal with that, how to lead a healthier life. That’s what she’s done for a good deal of her life and so she was asked ‘What would you do if you were First Lady?’ and she said ‘This is what I would do,’" Giuliani said.

"The context of what my question was, though, is thus — you’ve got Hillary Clinton with a very interesting husband, you have John Edwards with a wife who people are very interested in hearing from and you.  At what point do you all as candidates say, ‘Hey, I’m the candidate here and…’"

Giuliani started laughing.

"Is this a very unusual election cycle in this regard," I continued, over his laughter, "Or…"

"In some ways it is.  I think that the scrutiny of me should be complete and when somebody is a spouse, obviously there should be some, but it isn’t the same thing.  It shouldn’t be the same thing.  Anybody who knows me knows I’ll be the one making the decisions.  I was as the mayor, so you’re entitled to know everything you want to know about me.  If some things are too private, I’ll just tell you and you can probably go pursue them anyway," Giuliani said.   

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.