Giuliani: “our campaign is fine”

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke with me by telephone this morning.  My first question was about his Iowa campaign effort and how former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle’s departure (President Bush has nominated Nussle to be head of the OMB) has changed the Giuliani campaign in Iowa.

"He helped us with a lot of the ideas in our campaign," Giuliani said of Nussle.  "…Our campaign is fine.  We have focused on the Caucuses in January.  We think that given the time that we started and the amount of time that we had, reaching out to the most people in Iowa — it’s best to do that." 

Next question was about Fred.  "Fred Thompson played a New York prosecutor.  You were one," I said. Giuliani started laughing.  "Do you have a history with Mr. Thompson and what do you think about his entry into the race?"

"Look, you’re right," Giuliani replied.  "Part of my background, in fact more of it than anything else, has been spent as a United States Attorney and assistant United States Attorney and as the third-ranking official in the Reagan Justice Department and prosecuting many organized crime cases and other kinds of crime — white collar crime. 

"Fred is someone I know.  I have great respect for Fred.  He was a really good member of congress, but I’m not kind of focused on anyone else’s campaign.  I’m focused on mine and I focus on the fact that I believe what I offer the people of Iowa is the same thing that I offer the people of America — probably of all the people in the race — the most executive experience.  I’ve had a job that is complex, difficult, one that requires a tremendous amount of organization, dealing with crisis, dealing with a large government — the fourth largest government in the country and I think at this time of real difficult challenges that we face:  terrorism, fiscal discipline, the size of government, out of control Washington — I think somebody with my background has a real good chance of getting elected."

Next question was about the Fair Tax.  Giuliani made an appearance in Florida on Saturday in which he was jeered by some audience members who support a nationwide sales tax to replace the income tax.   In his answer in Florida, Giuliani suggested such a tax shift would be damaging to the economy.

"The point that I made to the people there is that the way our economy is structured has to be taken into consideration when you change the tax code," Giuliani said.  "For example, charities, real estate, home ownership, state and local governments — all of these are structured on our tax code and if you want to make a change to the Fair Tax or the Flat Tax, then the only realistic way to look at it would be over a long term.  Over a long period of time, how would you transition all those things and I think the most effective thing we can do right now is to simplify the tax code.  Reduce the number of deductions, make it a lot easier for the normal person to file their tax return and gosh darn it, you know, lower taxes.  You’ve got to lower taxes.

"It’s going to be difficult enough if there’s a Democratic congress to lower taxes.  To promise people a total, seismic shift in the tax code — I try to be very realistic about my promises.  The people that were there (in Florida), they had their signs and I think they expected me to just agree with them.  I told them the thing you’ll get out of me as a presidential candidate is I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ll tell you what I believe.  Then, you know, you can agree or disagree and I find it much more satisfying running for office that way, then some people that disagree with you still vote for you because they’ve found that on the whole balance of things, they think you’ll be a better leader."

"So tell me the truth, are you a NASCAR fan?" I asked.  As you may know, Giuliani visited Daytona this weekend.

"I became one.  I had not been to a NASCAR race.  I’d watched them on television.  I’d been in a NASCAR once.  I drove around a track once.  I love cars.  I love sports and I never realized it was such a tremendous, spectacular event.  I’m still talking about it," Giuliani replied.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Is that the coolest thing Giuliani likes NASCAR too. I wonder if the Pres. is a fan too