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Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the campaign trail

Friday, February 23, 2007

HH: Welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, Mayor. Good to have you.

RG: How are you, Hugh?

HH: I’m great.

RG: Good to talk to you.

HH: I’m great. Mayor, the campaign’s off to a pretty early start. Are you surprised to see Senators Clinton and Obama throwing bricks at each other this early?

RG: I’m surprised on both scores. I mean, I think it is off to an early start, but you know…and I think everybody’s rushing to catch up, and I am surprised that it got so personal so quickly, but I think that was by accident. I don’t think it was by their design. It’s sort of like a third party who inserted something into that, and I imagine they’re going to quickly get off it. Neither one of them, I think, wants to be in that position.

HH: Do you expect the Republican side to go anywhere like that in a hurry?

RG: I hope not. I hope not (laughing). I hope not, but if it does, I think we’ll get off it right away. It’ll end up because it’s an accident, not because of the desires of Senator McCain or Governor Romney or me, or any of the others. We don’t have any desire to be personally engaged with each other. I respect everybody that’s in the Republican field, and I respect everybody in the Democratic field.

HH: Let me ask you, Mayor. You’ve got a Brooklyn kid, Catholic Italian, you’ve got a white Mormon Massachusetts guy running. Are the Evangelicals in the south just going to say forget about it for you and Governor Romney?

RG: I think, I think all Republicans, however you want to describe them, from the south, from the north, from the east or west, they’re going to look at all of us, and they’re going to try to figure out which one fits better what we want. And you’re never going to find somebody you agree with 100%, or is exactly like you are, and there’s nobody like that. So you look at the overall person, there’ll be a few things you disagree with, hopefully a lot of things you agree with, and the big question is, who do you think can lead the country more effectively? Who’s had the experience to do that? And who has the better ideas for the future?

HH: Richard Land, I’m sure you saw, he was on record this week saying I don’t think Evangelicals will vote for Rudy. I disagree with that, but how do you get past that kind of a block?

RG: Well, I have spent a great deal of time over the last three, four years in various places, talking to many, many people including clergy, who are, who would describe themselves, I think, as Evangelicals, They are. Some of the people working on my campaign are very committed as Evangelical, born again Christians, and I have a great knowledge of religion, and a great respect for it, and I think there’s a great deal of commonality. And I find that when we spend time together, or in other words, I talk to groups that would describe themselves as Evangelical Christians, or very committed to religion, that they come away feeling that on most issues, there’s agreement. There are some disagreements, but that there’s a basic core of looking at the world in very much the same way.

HH: Now the other outsider in this race, Governor Romney, is also getting some Evangelical blowback, because he’s a Mormon. What do you make of that issue?

RG: I think that the Governor’s religion is not an issue in any way in the campaign, and any more than John Kennedy as being a Catholic was an issue, or Senator Lieberman as being Jewish when we ran for vice president. I mean, these things…I think we’re way beyond that, and I don’t think it’ll be an issue. I mean, obviously, by an issue, people will comment on it, but I think the American people have gone way beyond that, and they’re willing…what they want to do is look at the person, and what kind of…how have you performed in public office, what have you done, have you acted as a fair, impartial person in dealing with people of all different religions or whatever. And if that’s the case, those are the issues, not is what is someone’s religion, but how have they acted.

HH: Now Mayor, my first day at the Department of Justice in 1984 was your last. I joined Bill Smith’s staff as a special assistant. You had a farewell party. I’d like to go back and do a little biography for people.

RG: That was the longest speech I ever gave (laughing).

HH: Yes, it was, actually. It may still be going on.

RG: (laughing) I remember it. I remember it.

HH: I was in the back of the room saying who is this guy?

RG: Ted Olson and Bob McConnell, and all my old pals keep…always tease me about that.

HH: You know, you picked up Ted Olson’s endorsement, taking a digression. That’s a big deal. Will he be playing a role in your campaign?

RG: He sure will. I mean, Ted Olson is someone I have…first of all, he’s a very, very good friend. I mean, he’s someone…he’s been my friend since those days, and we’ve been through a lot together. Yes, Ted will play a very big role in my campaign, and I mean, if Ted weren’t my very, very good friend, he’d be somebody I’d still want to rely on as probably one of the biggest experts on the Constitution in this country, and the person who probably has argued before the Supreme Court more than anybody I know.

HH: He or Judge Starr, one of those two are the two most…

RG: He or Ken have probably argued before the Supreme Court more than anyone that I know, and their knowledge of it is remarkable. I mean, it’s a great asset to anybody.

HH: Will he help you pick judges if you are the president, and you’re making Supreme Court selections?

RG: He’d be one of the first people that I’d turn to for advice and help and assistance. And I was involved in the Reagan administration in the judge selection process, although that was run by the deputy attorney general, and I was involved in the U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals. But I watched all of it, and I appointed 100 judges myself. And it’s something I thought of, when I was the Mayor, as one of the most important things that I did.

HH: Did you have a litmus test for those hundred?

RG: No. No, not a litmus test on a single issue, a philosophical test, meaning what I wanted to know was what’s their view of how you interpret the Constitution and laws? Are they…do the Constitution and laws exist as the thing from which you have to discern the meaning and the intent? Or are you going to superimpose your own social views? And I want, I like the first kind of judge, who is a judge who looks to the meaning of the Constitution, doesn’t try to create it.

HH: A pro-life voter looking at you, knowing that you’re pro-choice, but not concerned that presidents really matter so much in that, except as far as judges are concerned, what do you tell them about who you’re going to be putting on the federal bench?

RG: I’m going to say I’d put people like…I mean, the best way to do it is to just say I would, I could just have easily have appointed Sam Alito or Chief Justice Roberts as President Bush did, in fact. I’d have been pretty proud of myself if I had been smart enough to make that choice if I were the president.

HH: Do you expect justices like Roberts and Alito to come out of a Giuliani administration?

RG: I hope. I mean, that would be my goal. I mean, they’re sort of a very high standard, and so is Justices Scalia and Thomas. That would be the kind of judges I would look for, both in terms of their background and their integrity, but also the intellectual honesty with which they interpret the law.

HH: Now you know, the first President Bush got this big head fake with Justice Souter. Do you think you can get fooled the same way that he did on that one?

RG: All of us make mistakes. I mean, your goal and your intent would be not to, but I learned a long time ago that you’re never 100% correct in the decisions you make, and I think that that…and with judges, that’s even more difficult, because they change their minds. But I was very aware of that when I was appointing judges to the criminal court in New York. And my goal there was more the criminal justice issues. You know, were they going to be tougher on crime, basically. Were they going to interpret some of the massive grants and rights that were given to criminals with an eye toward protecting the victims and protecting society. And I think I did a pretty good job of that. I can’t say I was 100%, but I think I did a pretty darn good job of that.

HH: Now I want to go back to the bio stuff. When you left main Justice in ’84, you went down to the Southern District of New York, and can you give us a short course, a lot of people don’t really know, the mob as it was when you got there, and organized crime as it was when you left?

RG: Well, when I got there, there were…organized crime was a major factor in New York. Organized crime’s a major factor in the country. It controlled things like the Teamster’s Union, and it controlled other areas of industry, like the Fulton Fish Market in New York, the carting industry in New York, some of the other labor unions in New York. So it had…it was beyond just being a criminal organization that committed crimes in an unfortunate and effective way. It had infiltrated the legitimate aspects of our society, labor unions, to some extent politics, businesses, the garment industry, and I came at a time that was very fortuitous, in the sense that the FBI had done a great deal of work in gathering information against them, I was the associate attorney general, I knew that work, so when I became U.S. attorney, I think I was able to further it in a way that probably most others couldn’t, because of the background I had had in Washington, and my relationships with the FBI. And I would say over that five years, which would be ’83-’89, we did, we inflicted the kind of damage on organized crime that had never been inflicted before. It wasn’t just putting hundreds in jail here, and thousands, helping with thousands of imprisonments in Italy, because we also had a cooperation with the Italian government, it was that the part that I saw as the most significant was the use of the racketeering statue to infiltrate their businesses, and take their money away from them. We basically took them out of the carting industry. We took them out of the garment center. We took them out of the Teamster’s Union. I brought a case that put the Teamster’s Union in trusteeship, and it was right during the…it’s very interesting to think back on this, it was right during the 1988 presidential primaries, and every presidential candidate, I think everyone, condemned me for doing it, for using the RICO statute, except one, Vice President Bush. He defended me and said I did the right thing. It always made me, I’ve always, I was always an admirer of Vice President Bush before that, I became a big admirer of his when he…because actually, he was getting the worst of it, because the Teamsters had previously been Republican.

HH: Yeah.

RG: And this case switched them to the Democratic Party…

HH: Yeah.

RG: And I felt kind of responsible for it.

HH: Well now, Mayor, when you look at that long, years long effort to go after the mob, and then you look at two things, street gangs, because in L.A., where we’re talking today, they’re enormous and they’re very, very deep and well-funded, and terrorism, and I mean, the national Republican Party has just discovered they’ve been getting money from a guy whose now been indicted on terrorism charges, can the law work against those two organizations the same way they worked against the mob?

RG: It sure can. In fact, one of the thins that I was most encouraged by, right after September 11, when there were things that could really discourage you, and make you feel, you know, how are we going to deal with this, and what are we going to do, and we’ve never encountered this kind of attack before, the worst attack on our history, we’ve never dealt with an enemy like this before. Usually, they were concentrated in a particular country, or a particular defined movement, but this is a number of parts of the world, they’re determined to destroy us, they’re determined to kill us. I thought that the Justice Department action in arresting people, and then seizing assets, particularly that second part, seizing assets, was really important, because one of the ways that we can win this war on terror, and destroy these terrorist groups, is not only military, not only political, intelligence, it’s seizing their assets, getting their money away from them, finding their sources of money and cutting it off. Then, the organization can’t really accomplish anything really sophisticated. It’s the same thing we did with organized crime. We realized that at one point, that just pursuing them as criminals to put in jail was not good enough, because you put a hundred in jail, and a hundred would take their place with the same $2 billion dollars in assets. You take that $2 billion dollars in assets, and shrink it to a billion, now they had half the organization.

HH: Right.

RG: If you could shrink it to $500 million, they were starting to disappear. And if you got it below $500 million, they were gone.

HH: And that will work against street gangs, you think?

RG: It’ll work against street gangs, it’ll work against terrorism. It is an enormously powerful and important weapon of law enforcement. Domestically, it can be used against street gangs, and internationally against organized crime…against terrorism as well as organized crime.

HH: Last question. I know you’re up against another interview, Mayor. Last question. At St. Anne’s, and at Bishop Laughlin, who don’t you want us to talk to in the media?

RG: Oh, you mean people I went to school with?

HH: Yeah. Which teachers do you want us to stay away from?

RG: (laughing) I think maybe the nuns that used to discipline me might be the ones that…

HH: Got a particular name?

RG: No, I love ’em all. They…the nuns and the brothers who taught me in school are the reason why I was U.S. attorney, mayor, and have even a chance of running for president of the United States. They were my…I mean, my gratitude to them is enormous, even the ones that had to discipline me, of which there were more than a few (laughing).

HH: Rudy Giuliani, always a pleasure.

RG: Thank you.

HH: Look forward to talking to you again soon, Mayor. Take care.

RG: Thank you very much, Hugh.

End of interview.

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