Rudy Giuliani on McCain’s leaderhip, and Obama’s clean skirts.
HH: To react to the events of this week and especially of today I’m joined by former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. Mayor, welcome back, your reaction to today’s events?
RG: Well, I was surprised. It seemed to me earlier in the day that everyone had thought that this deal was put together. When I listened to Nancy Pelosi’s speech, which was a pretty heavy attack on the Republicans, I assumed that she must have had the votes from the Democrats to get it done. I don’t think you would have given a speech like that if you didn’t have the votes from the Democrats. And then I was very surprised to see that over a third, about a third of her delegation voted against her. So it seems to me that this, something seriously went wrong in the negotiations, and it reiterates what John McCain was saying last week, that this deal was never done. They must have been dealing with smoke and mirrors. And it wasn’t done because they didn’t really follow the advice that he gave, which was just to sit down and hammer it out, and get everybody’s objections taken care of.
HH: Now Mayor, you’ve dealt with situations where fear rules the sidewalks. Obviously, post-9/11 and markets crashed, and of course, buildings crashed. And how do you get confidence back? What does leadership have to do in a situation where a lot of people are going to lose a lot of sleep tonight because they think their life savings are in jeopardy?
RG: Well, basically you have to be honest with people. And the reality is what you should be able to do is give them confidence that a responsible decision will get made very quickly. But you know, after a day like today, it’s hard for any one person to do that, because I think that the American politicians in Washington convinced us once again that they can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
HH: They sure can. Today, the AP has a story out this afternoon, Mayor, by Liz Sidoti, AP, reading, “Barack Obama’s calmly assured response to the economic crisis and solid debate performance have bolstered the view among voters that he is ready to be chief executive.” What’s your reaction to such…
RG: My reaction is that he’s ready to not even vote present. He’s absent. John McCain showed much more leadership than Barack Obama by wading into the dispute, by saying I’m going to suspend my campaign, I’m going to come to Washington, I’m going to try to work things out, and all the Democrats did was attack and attack and attack and attack, after they asked him to basically straighten it out. Barack Obama has done what he’s done throughout his entire career, which is vote present, not offer any leadership. We don’t even know what part of the plan he supports or doesn’t support. John McCain delivered sixty Republican votes. When he went to Washington last week, only four Republicans in the House were in favor of this. They ended up with 64. There were enough Republican votes for the Democrats to get this done, but a third of the Democrats abandoned Nancy Pelosi. I have a feeling that if Barack Obama were at the table rolling up his sleeves, taking the same risk that John McCain took, they could have gotten that other twenty or thirty Democratic votes. It might have helped get a few more Republican votes if they saw that kind of commitment on the Democratic side.
HH: Should Obama be out there right now demanding that this pass on Thursday, Mayor?
RG: Of course. He should be working the phones. That’s what a president…this is what our great presidents do. They work the phones. It just doesn’t all happen because you make a speech and say change. It just doesn’t happen because you have a catch phrase or you happen to be able to have sort of a rock star effect on people. Politicians don’t care about rock star effects on people. They care about are you negotiating with me, what you are going to do for me, how are you going to get it done. I passed a lot of legislation as Mayor of New York City. It didn’t happen because I’m a rock star. It happened because I could negotiate with people, and I could work with them to get it done. John McCain can do that. Remember, when he went to Washington, with all the Democrats attacking him, he took the Republicans from four to 64. When Barack Obama went to Washington, it looks like the Democrats disappeared.
HH: Mayor, let’s look at the debate from last week as well. Your assessment of Friday night’s showdown?
RG: My assessment is, I was there, I was one of the first people to comment on it. I sat there, I actually made notes and scored it. John McCain won it decisively, particularly on foreign policy. I thought a few of those were almost like knockout punches. And I think if you scored that debate having watched it, John McCain wins going away. You give a biased media two days to tell you who they think won, and you know, you can changed a lot of people’s impressions.
HH: I did the same thing. I had a scorecard online, I watched it and I blogged it live, and I came to the conclusion, just question by question, especially in foreign policy, North Korea and Pakistan, Barack Obama does not reassure. He scares the living daylights out of me, Mayor. What do you think people around the world saw?
RG: I’ll give you one indication. How many times Barack Obama was required to say you’re right, Senator McCain, that was about eight to ten times. A good indication of who’s winning in a debate is who’s on offense, who’s on defense. Well, McCain was on offense – you don’t understand that, Senator Obama, you don’t understand it, you don’t have the experience for it. Obama was on defense. You know, he’d have to qualify what he was saying – well, you’re right, Senator McCain, but I disagree here, or whatever. That is essentially what Richard Nixon did in the debate with John Kennedy. If you go back to that debate, one of the reasons he was thought to have lost it was, not only his appearance, but the fact that he was constantly having to say to Kennedy, you’re right, you’re right, put him on defense. So Obama was on defense all night.
HH: And so how in the tank is the media at this point? You know, they’ve been also, I’ve got to get your opinion of their treatment of Sarah Palin from the last two weeks as well.
RG: Oh, they’re treating John McCain kindly in comparison to Sarah Palin. I mean, they are, they are very much…I would be less than honest if I didn’t say to you that this is about the most biased coverage I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen, including of myself, some pretty biased coverage being a Republican in a Democratic city. I’ve never seen any particular political figure treated as unfairly as Sarah Palin is being treated. And I’ll give you one example, all right? Joe Biden the other day is being interviewed, and he’s trying to make a point against John McCain and President Bush about they’re not being expressive enough or empathizing enough. And he says well, when the stock market crashed in 1929, Franklin Roosevelt got on television and reassured the American people.
RG: Well, there was no television in 1929, and Franklin Roosevelt was the governor of New York at the time. He did not get on television or radio. It was Herbert Hoover who was the president. Imagine if Sarah Palin made that mistake.
HH: It’d be over.
RG: It’d be over?
RG: Where do you think the New York Times would place that?
RG: Page one. What do you think MSNBC would do with that? I think they’d have, they’d devote, they’d stop their coverage for two days and cover it for two days.
HH: So what is your advice to Governor Palin as she prepares for Thursday night?
RG: Oh, gosh, having gone through what, eleven, I just went through this with John. You know, we talked about the debates that we had. We had eleven of them. Sometimes, you can get too much advice. My advice would be gather as much knowledge as you can between now and then, anticipate a lot of what’s going to happen, and then just be yourself. If it’s the same Sarah Palin or the Sarah Palin who gave that speech right after me at the Republican convention, I finished my speech, I sat down, and I watched it. And I was absolutely in awe of someone being able to do that under that kind of pressure, when you consider this is the first time she’s ever done it.
RG: I mean, I’ve spoken to fifty, sixty thousand people at different times. I mean, I’ve given, I don’t know, five thousand speeches or something.
HH: Yup. Now in terms of the dynamic of the race, we left St. Paul, you as a Republican and the media left St. Paul thinking John McCain had established with Sarah Palin a huge breakthrough. He led briefly, then it fell back to even. Now a couple of polls have Obama pulling away by six, eight points, though Battleground says it’s even. What’s your sense of this race and of the next five weeks?
RG: My sense, and I don’t believe…I believe there has been a change right now at this particular point we’re at. I don’t think it’s about Sarah Palin. I think that she’s still giving us help by making the Republican base very enthusiastic, and actually reaching over to a group of voters who might not be thinking about us. I think it’s the economy that’s creating it. The general wisdom is if there’s trouble in the economy, it’s going to favor the Democrat. I think that’s what you’re seeing. But I believe if the public perceives a crisis in the economy, I think it’s going to start favoring John McCain, because I think it’ll be the same reason why they favor him as the more capable being commander in chief. And right now, we need a leader. We need someone who can make tough decisions, somebody who can wade in and get things done. John McCain last week acted like a president, trying to get votes. All this weekend, he’s acted like a president, trying to get votes. Barack Obama is just trying to stay out of the battle, you know, let me keep my skirts clean, and I want to politically position myself. That isn’t the kind of leader we need at a time the country’s at crisis.
HH: Last question, Mayor…
RG: I think people are going to start feeling that. I really do.
HH: Ahmadinejad came and went again. The economic news overshadowed him. Do you think foreign affairs has another round to play in this election cycle?
RG: It could, very easily. I mean, let us hope that between now and Thursday when the House comes back, they can patch this together. I read the bill, by the way, I thought it was going to pass. And I got a copy of it, I read it, I’ve underlined it, I understand it. It’s a bill we can work with. It’ll help, it could have some improvements that would help get maybe some of the Republicans and Democrats on board, something that can be done to tweak it to help them get on board. And then maybe they should agree beforehand that they’re going to hold a ceremony in which they congratulate everybody instead of attack everybody. Maybe we get this bill passed, make the changes, and Nancy Pelosi can congratulate President Bush, President Bush can congratulate her, and both Senator McCain and Senator Obama can claim credit for it.
HH: Well, that’s a promised land I hope we get to on Thursday. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, always a pleasure, your Honor.
End of interview.