Christopher Hitchens and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle discuss the pros and cons of Rudy Giuliani as president.
HH: Joined in studio by Christopher Hitchens at the Heritage Foundation, and by phone by Curt Pringle, Mayor of Anaheim. Mayor Pringle, welcome. You’re on with Christopher Hitchens.
CP: Hello, how are you?
HH: I think he said how are you to you, Christopher, not to me. He doesn’t care how I am.
CH: It’s a bit early to say.
HH: Curt Pringle, you endorsed Rudy Giuliani, and I want to tell people you’re an old friend of mine, former speaker of the assembly of California, now Mayor of Anaheim, Evangelical Christian, married to one woman for your whole life with a wonderful family. Why Rudy?
CH: Well, I think he’s not only a great candidate, but would be a great president. I mean, it’s very important, I think, for us these days to really look at who we get in the difficult situations in life. I have known and watched Rudy Giuliani as he’s governed possibly an ungovernable situation in New York, and did a great job. I’ve seen him work for Republican candidates across this country, and demonstrate that loyalty, and I have seen, like everyone else, his stepping up in times of crises. And you know, it’s all those leadership points that are important to me, and I think they’re important to have in a person to be president.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, are you surprised as the Vanity Fair columnist, and writing about politics all these years, to find hard, I mean very solid conservatives like Curt Pringle lining up behind Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of the bluest city in America?
CH: Not terrifically, no I’m not surprised, because politics is preeminently about character, especially American politics. And I think conservative politics takes character to account in an enormous way. That’s why people stuck with Reagan when he was relatively untried, for example. With Rudy Giuliani, you know something that you usually can’t know about a candidate, which is how would he act in a really terrible crisis.
HH: Curt Pringle, you’re the mayor of…how big is Anaheim now?
CP: It’s about 350,000 people.
HH: It’s a complicated city, it’s got huge road work issues, it’s got Disneyland, it’s got lots of housing issues, et cetera…
CH: Crystal Cathedral as well.
HH: No, that’s Garden Grove.
CP: But we’ll claim whatever comes near.
HH: Yeah, and he’ll annex it if he can.
HH: So you’ve been a legislator and a mayor. Does a mayor, even of a vast city like New York, have the necessary executive experience to run a vast operation of the federal government? You know, because the California state government’s pretty big, but does a mayor get what you need in terms of experience?
CP: Well, it all depends on mayor of what. I certainly don’t have the same level of expertise and skill as someone who has governed and been the executive of a city like New York. New York, which is larger than many states, if not half of the states in the United States…and being an executive is a big deal. I think it’s a very important step in learning the skills of how to put the team together, how to put the right people in the right spots to be able to accomplish important things. Serving as a legislator, I’d love that job, but that job also is the ability to demonstrate kind of a pure perspective on everything, to be able to say I’m standing on this point, and I’m not wavering, therefore I’m going to be a no vote on certain elements. Being the executive, being forced to govern, particularly if you look at someone like Rudy Giuliani in New York at the point in time he became mayor, he had to step up. He had to get the right people into the right spot, and he had to govern a very difficult city, very difficult government.
HH: You know, I took a cab today from mid-town over to LaGuardia, with a 78 year old cabbie, he’s been driving a cab there for 50 years, fascinating guy. And I asked him about Giuliani and the divorce, and he said screw the divorce, the man took on the fish market, and he went through the whole mob thing. He knew the mob like nobody knew the mob, and I think that’s what New Yorkers say. But Christopher Hitchens, Americans love a good scandal, and there are a million reporters waiting to dig deep into stuff that I just don’t know much about, because I wasn’t in New York during those years. How much is that going to hurt him?
CH: Well, it won’t be found that he’s mobbed up.
HH: No, no, I’m talking mostly his marriage, and…
CH: No…well, if you mean the marriage, well, I suppose it is sad. As I’ve read recently, that neither of his children wants to campaign for him. That has to be a blow. If they just didn’t campaign, that might be one thing. No one, maybe, would have expected them to, but to make a point of saying no we won’t, at this stage of the game, must have been wounding to him.
HH: Curt Pringle, how does it…you’re a social conservative, how does he address that issue effectively? Or does he?
CP: Well, you know, as a social conservative, I can try to push my specific values onto others, but I also know that one of my heroes is Ronald Reagan, and he may not have had the most perfect relationship with his children at the time he became president, and yet he was a great governor and a great president. And you know, we all have…
HH: That’s a great point, by the way, Curt. I had not heard anyone make that yet. You’re absolutely right.
CH: Oh, you must have heard people talking about the divorced actor.
HH: I mean, I’m talking about the kids, because it there was a lot of tension between Patti and Ron and the Dad and Mom, and oh…
CH: Oh, absolutely, yes.
HH: You’re absolutely right about that. That’s very observant, Mayor.
CP: And governing is different. You’re right. And you know, I’d like to see people govern with conservative principles, and I see that in Rudy Giuliani’s experiences.
HH: You trust him on the judges?
CP: I do.
HH: Christopher Hitchens?
CH: Too soon to say.
HH: And do you think he’s going to pretend to be a Roberts and an Alito fan? Or is he really a Roberts and Alito fan, Hitchens?
CH: You’re tempting me to say that that’s all the Catholics stacking up together.
HH: (laughing) What do you think, Curt?
CP: Well, you know, it’s interesting to try to see what may be phony within him, but the one thing I see very clearly with this candidate is he tells it like it is. I mean, he isn’t trying to be everything to everybody, and he’s very clear about where he stands on some very difficult issues, some of which I don’t agree with, by the way, his position, yet I agree with his integrity in who he is, and also the foundation on which he starts.
HH: He’s also kinetic. He’s got great radio and television ability.
CH: And that’s another thing. Sorry, I’m staring you in the face. He doesn’t come from a small town, so we don’t have to have any of those speeches.
CH: I used to muck out the pigs and so on, and I went barefoot to school. None of that. He comes from a proper big city where lots of people live, with real politics.
HH: (laughing) Curt Pringle, always a pleasure. I assume you’ve already memorized A Mormon In The White House, Curt?
HH: You have not read my new book yet?
CP: No, I’m waiting for my signed copy.
HH: You…I’ve just given Christopher Hitchens his, but I can’t believe you made your decision without reading this book.
CP: Well, that’s okay, I can make some decisions without your guidance, Hugh.
HH: Have you got my NFL tickets yet?
CP: We can talk about that when you have me on next. (laughing)
HH: All right. Take care, Mayor Pringle, always a pleasure.
End of interview.