Giuliani in Des Moines, touting record, responding to questions about Bloomberg, Iraq study group

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave a speech over the noon-hour in Des Moines (it would have been a late morning speech had it not started an hour late at 11:30 am).  Here’s the Radio Iowa story.

Afterwards, Giuliani spoke with reporters for about 10 minutes.

The first question was about his membership in the Iraq Study Group (in reference to a New York Times story.  Giuliani’s answers following the jump.

"Actually what I concluded was that it was a mistake for me to be on the study group," Giuliani told reporters in Des Moines. "I talked to Jim Baker about it and decided that it was a mistake because at the time that I agreed to do it I raised ir with him.  We thought it would work and then after about a month or two I realized that the idea that I was going to possibly run for president would be inconsistent with that.  Sure, it would have been a sacrifice of time or a time trade off, but the main reason for it was that it didn’t seem that I’d really be able to keep the thing focused on a bipartisan, non-political resolution.  I started to listen to some of the discussions and it was clear to me that they were going to make their report, by the time they made their report we were going to be in political season and that’s the main reason that I did it."

Are you saying you think it was a mistake to accept membership in the group?

"Yea, oh yea.  I did.  It was a mistake because I had an active — let’s see a right way to put this — I sort of had an active political career that could interfere in the way in which the recommendations of the commission would be viewed," Giuliani replied.  "All the other members of the commission have had distinguished public careers.  None of them were prospective candidates for office.  When I looked at the timing of it and you had it kind of fast-forward, it was clear that the report — although I joined the commission when you wouldn’t call it political season, the report would come out right in the middle of the political season.  Suppose the report came out.  I was on the commission and I did a dissenting opinion or people thought the report was skewed in some way to help me.  It just made no sense.  It was not the right thing to do originally.  We didn’t focus on it originally.  After about two months I realized it and I got off the commission."

Here is Giuliani’s second answer to the Bloomberg switching to Independent and perhaps running for president question.  If that happens, the current NYC mayor might be running against the former NYC mayor.

"I like Mike very much…I am disappointed that he left the Republican Party," Giuliani said."I still respect what he’s done as mayor.  I believe he’s done good things as mayor of New York City and I am very, very grateful for that because I think, you know, when you work as hard as I did at being mayor you want those things preserved and he’s done a lot of that and he’s done a good job.  I am disappointed he left the Republican Party.  I have no idea if he’s running (for president) or not."

A reporter then asked, "What if he did?" at the same time Giuliani’s staffers were trying to get him out of the room.

"I’ll be finished in a minute, I’m answering the question.  I just don’t know.  How do we know if he’s going to run. How do we know if I’m going to be the (Republican) candidate?  I think I am.  I think I am.  He says he’s not running.  I’ve got to take him at his word.  If he does run, he has every right to do it.  He has every right to do it.  Fred Thompson has every right to do it.  Newt Gingrich has every right to do it.  Al Gore has every right to do it.  Some or all of them may enter the race.  God bless ’em.  They should get their message out to the American people.  I have tried, philosophically, to look at it this way.  I have my message and I’m either going to win or lose on how good a job of conveying my message.  I don’t see it as like running against somebody else and it’s way too early to be thinking about that."

More on the 47-minute-long speech and the 10-minute Q&A with reporters later this afternoon.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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