Rudy Giuliani from the campaign trail
HH: Welcome, Mayor, welcome back to the program. Good to have you.
RG: How are you, Hugh? Nice to talk to you.
HH: Great to have you back. Mayor, let’s start light. If you’re president, will you commit to working for a playoff in college football?
RG: (laughing) Well, yeah, I would like to see a couple of rounds. This one is really confused.
HH: It is.
RG: This one is really confused. You’ve got maybe six teams that, well, you can have like a series of three games, and then finally a championship game.
HH: Yeah, so good. We’ve got you on record then, that you want a playoff. That’s good.
HH: Mayor, when you were growing up in New York, were you a fan of boxing?
RG: I am a fan of boxing. My father was a boxer, and taught me how to box when I was very young. And I even write about it in my book. I think it helped me develop some of the attitudes that I have. And once, I did a very famous cross-examination of a Congressman who broke down on the stand, and ultimately confessed. And one of the things that I was proudest of was in the New York Times piece they wrote about it, they said it looked like I was a boxer.
HH: Who’s your favorite fighter?
RG: Who was my favorite? Muhammad.
HH: All right. The reason I asked that…
RG: Muhammad Ali…and then my father’s favorite was Sugar Ray Robinson.
RG: He used to describe him as the best pound for pound boxer in the history of boxing.
HH: When was the last time you were in the ring?
RG: I don’t know, when I was 12 years old?
HH: 12. Okay.
RG: Or 13 years old? (laughing)
HH: The reason I asked this is it looks like you and Governor Romney are in a fifteen rounder, and the others ones are nice, but they don’t count. It’s going to be you or Romney, and most of us pundits believe that. Now who’s Ali and who’s Frazier in this fifteen rounder?
RG: Oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t analogize it to boxing, and I would think it would be a disservice to the other candidates to say that it’s a two person race. I think John McCain’ll get real angry at you for saying that, and Fred Thompson might get annoyed, and Huckabee’s doing a heck of a job. So you can’t…I mean, nobody should cut those people off.
HH: Well, they’re not being cut off, but I just…we don’t see them getting a path to there. So it’s not just a Romney-Giuliani contest, even though you guys have been throwing bricks at each other?
RG: I don’t think so. No, when I look at some of these races, I mean, the Governor is in good shape in a few states, but in some states, he’s like in fifth place. There’s a poll in Florida where he’s behind Huckabee, McCain and I think Thompson.
HH: Can you survive losing five in a row, Mayor, if he wins five in a row?
RG: We’re going to survive whatever we have to survive to get nominated (laughing). I mean, the whole idea of getting nominated is you’ve got to win, ultimately, the most votes. So we think we’re well situated to do that. We would prefer to win some of the early primaries, just like anybody else would, but we’re also prepared to lose some primaries and still win the nomination. No one has ever been nominated that has won every primary, at least not that I can remember.
HH: Are you competing hard in Iowa?
RG: We are competing hard in Iowa. We’re, quite frankly, competing harder in New Hampshire…
RG: …where we’ve spent more time. We may do more in Iowa. We’ll have to keep looking at all these things and how they move. We’re competing very strongly in South Carolina. We’re virtually, we’ve been either first, second or tied in South Carolina from the very beginning. So we think that South Carolina’s a good state for us. The number one or two person kind of has shifted a bit. It was McCain, Thompson, Romney, gone back to Thompson. But we’ve been right in there in South Carolina. And we’re very encouraged by the fact that in Michigan, we’re even with Romney, and that’s his home state. And he sure as heck is not even with me in New York.
HH: All right. Yesterday on this program, Governor Romney brought up Bernie Kerik. Fair game or below the belt?
RG: Of course, of course it’s fair game. It’s a mistake. I admit that it’s a mistake.
RG: I made a mistake. I should have checked him out much more carefully. Part of it came about because he had such excellent results as a corrections commissioner. He brought down violence in the New York City jails by 90%. There was a whole piece on 60 Minutes about it. And he brought down violence in New York City by 20-30%. And he was a hero on September 11, and one of the most decorated officers in New York City, in terms of as a police officer, saving other people’s lives. He had a whole aspect to his personal life that we didn’t know about. And it was my responsibility. We should have known about it, and not put him forward.
HH: Going back to the slugfest between you and Governor Romney, could either of you serve in or on the other’s administration or ticket?
RG: I have great respect for Governor Romney, and I’m sure he has the same for me. I campaigned for him. I was one of the last people with him the night before he got elected, campaigning for him, walking through the streets of Boston, and campaigned with him several times during that campaign, supported him. But the reality is I believe I could do a better job. I think when you compare our records as Mayor and Governor, you get two different pictures of somebody that was able to do the impossible in New York, and then I think you would come to a different conclusion about Governor Romney’s record. So I think I’m better prepared to do the impossible, meaning to end illegal immigration…
HH: But do you think either of you could serve in the other’s administration or ticket?
RG: Well, we both would be a lot better than the Democratic choices, and I’m sure when this is all said and done, we will end up having great respect for each other.
HH: Great. Let’s go to one case here. Have you seen the movie American Gangster yet?
RG: I did. I saw the movie, and my wife, Judith, and I saw the movie this weekend, believe it or not. We had a little time off for Thanksgiving, and I watched it with great interest, because I lived through a lot of that.
HH: I know. You prosecuted Frank Lucas, yeah.
RG: A lot of that was related to my own history as an assistant United States attorney, and then United States attorney. And I can tell you it’s an excellent movie, and it is not historically accurate.
HH: Well, is it a good thing for us to leave the theater sort of admiring Frank Lucas? I mean, he’s a…
RG: Probably not, probably not. A very…both Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes are very complex situations. They were drug dealers, they did terrible things. They then cooperated with the government. They actually cooperated with the government in the interim when I was not the United States attorney or an assistant United States attorney. My predecessors made the deal with them. But then, I had the responsibility of deciding whether we would keep that deal after they had rendered all their cooperation. And it was kind of controversial, but I came to the conclusion that we had to keep the deal, because the U.S. attorney’s office made it, and the integrity of the U.S. attorney’s office would determine whether we could make deals like this in the future.
HH: Mayor, when you were in charge of the city, both in the attorney’s office and then as Mayor, how did you deal with the drug abusers, not the crooks? We know you went after and got a lot of them, but the people who are addicts, what did you do about them?
RG: Basically, we did not prosecute drug addicts. I mean, there’d be a rare exception when a drug addict was actually a dealer, or a drug addict was actually a criminal in some other way, a murderer or a bank robber or something, which would happen. And of course, we’d prosecute them for that other crime. But if somebody were just an addict, we would try to move him over toward rehabilitation. And I knew the good programs in New York.
RG: The Odyssey houses, and the Phoenix houses, and places like that, and would take that, sometimes, as an option, rather than prosecution.
HH: Should we decriminalize and focus, for drug abusers, on their rehabilitation, or continue to prosecute them?
RG: I think it’s important to have that, because sometimes, it’s that kind of tough love that forces them into the rehabilitation. Sometimes, it’s the same thing with alcohol abuse, where you have to have an intervention sometimes? And the family’s got to just stand up and say no more of this? Sometimes, people don’t have families that do that, and unfortunately, the criminal justice system has to be the way to do that. But you know, the reality is it helps us to have these things against the law. And I learned that from drug addicts. I used to go to these rehabilitation programs and talk to them, you know, and find out more about what was going on, and what would work, and what wouldn’t work. And they were the ones who told me never decriminalize this, otherwise you’re going to have two to three times more drug abuse.
HH: Okay. Speaking of tough love, the Archbishop of Canterbury was practicing some on the United States. At least I think that’s what he thinks he was doing over the weekend. He said that the United States had lost the moral high ground since September 11th. He poured scorn on the chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity. How do you react to that, Mayor Giuliani?
RG: Well, I think we, I think America has the moral high ground. I’d like to know who does if we don’t. What country has moved more people out of poverty than the United States of America? And what country has a system that has done more to get rid of the vestiges of discrimination. We’re not perfect on that score, but nobody’s made the kind of strides that we’ve made, the kind of success that we’ve had. I mean, what country has had more social mobility than the United States? Certainly not some European country. And what country, and you know, we focus on our immigration problem, and it’s, illegal immigration is a real problem that I would end, but the other side of that is what country are people flocking into by the hundreds of thousands and millions? And it’s not one of the countries he’s been talking about. It’s ours, and I don’t think we should be arrogant about that. I think we should thank God for those blessings that we have, but we sure as heck shouldn’t have someone take away from us what is rightfully ours in terms of the goodness of our country.
HH: Mayor, have you had a chance to read The Looming Tower and Legacy Of Ashes yet, the books about…
RG: I have read The Looming Tower, and I have just begun Legacy Of Ashes. I’m actually just on the first chapter. It’s very interesting that you asked about that.
HH: It’s clear from these books…oh, it’s amazing, but it’s clear that our counterintelligence and counterterrorism and intelligence are pretty badly broken, and in some cases, acting very strangely. Can you get control of them as president?
RG: Yes, and I think that my background and experience, and this is the point that I try to make to people, it’s my background and experience in law enforcement, in the Justice Department, which I think is much more extensive than people realize. You can only tell a certain amount of your history and biography in a campaign like this. It puts me in a much better position to be able to reorganize these things than somebody who hasn’t had this experience. And the only thing I can do in a brief period of time to get people’s attention is to look at the results that I got when I was the United States attorney. I prosecuted organized crime in a way that nobody had ever done before, violent crime, political corruption, white collar crime. As Mayor of New York, I got these massive reductions in crime, and I was able to change welfare. What I’m good at is reorganizing these systems, and really turning them around, and getting startling results. And that’s what we’ll do.
HH: Do you perceive that there are elements within the CIA that are openly, or covertly at war with administration policy and undermining it?
RG: I read a book about that about three or four weeks ago, also, about the fact that there were elements in the CIA that were anti-Bush and anti-administration. And you know, you read these, and from the outside, you just have to evaluate all them. And once you get there, you find out if they’re true or not. But Legacy Of Ashes is a much more, a book much more critical of the CIA and how it’s operated over the years than actually has been my experience. I’ve worked with the CIA, not at the level you would as president, but as a United States attorney, associate attorney general, even as Mayor, occasionally. You would get briefings at least through the FBI. And my impression of the CIA is not that completely negative perception that would come across, I think, in Legacy Of Ashes. Instead, what I see is an agency made up of very, very brave people doing very difficult work, and probably with some problems in it. But hey, gosh, that was true of every, that’s true of the FBI, that’s true of the New York City Police Department, it was true of my administration, and it’s true of every large organization. There are always some problems in it, and you’re always working to try and fix those.
HH: John Bolton makes a pretty convincing case in his new book that the State Department’s pretty badly broken as well. Do you agree, and can you get control of that?
RG: Yeah, the State Department needs a total reorientation, I think, like a big one, the way I reoriented the Police Department, the Welfare office in New York, got them to think about how you’ve got to find jobs for people rather than just putting them on welfare. The State Department has to first think about itself as…the main purpose of the State Department, as I see it, when really, it was established by Washington with Thomas Jefferson, is to sell America. I mean, what it’s there for, the foreign policy of the United States exists to advance the interest of the United States. So when people tell me about the reputation of the United States being hurt, the first thing that I ask, having been in most of these countries, is what’s the ambassador doing about repairing our reputation?
RG: When America gets attacked, and I’ve been on ninety-plus foreign trips in the last five years, and I’ve heard it a lot, well, half the time, three-quarters of the time, the attack is erroneous. Are we correcting it? Are we out there realizing that the State Department exists to advance the reputation of the United States, the standing of the United States? And then the second purpose of it is to explain that country to us, or to the president and the administration. And I think sometimes, it’s that second purpose that dominates. They call it going native.
HH: Yup. That’s what Bolton says.
RG: And to some extent, you have to go native, but there’s got to be a priority. You’re going native for the purpose of explaining the United States. You know, we sent Franklin to France as our first ambassador to explain America to France, to get them on our side, not to explain the French to us. That was the secondary purpose.
HH: Last question because I’m out of time, I don’t want to abuse you, Mayor, is Justice working, and would Ted Olsen be your Attorney General?
RG: Well, Michael Mukasey is one of my oldest friends. And Ted Olsen is one of my second oldest friends. So…
HH: Pick one.
RG: (laughing) …that puts me in a very difficult position. They’re both…they’re not just good lawyers, they’re both great lawyers.
HH: They’re great lawyers, yeah.
RG: And I could have chosen either one of them as Attorney General. Ted was my colleague in the Reagan administration, and Michael Mukasey and I prosecuted Congressman Podell together, incidentally, back in the 70’s. We’ve been law partners. His son is my law partner now. So I’m very close to both men. They were both on my judicial advisory committee. Mike had to leave when he became Attorney General.
HH: Mayor, I’m out of time. I appreciate it, and look forward to having you back soon.
RG: Thank you, thank you, Hugh.
HH: Thank you.
End of interview.