Saturday, 14 May 2011

Giuliani, in N.H., Rips "RomneyCare"

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Rudy GiulianiFormer New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Friday he did not know when he would decide whether he would launch another campaign for President. But where he said it might give some indication of what that decision might be. Giuliani was in New Hampshire, recalling the events of 9/11. And he answered questions about his own possible presidential plans in "an exclusive sit-down" interview with the Boston Herald, during which he also knocked potential rival Mitt Romney over the former Bay State governor's health insurance program, commonly called "RomneyCare."

"I'm known for my candor. I find it impossible to skirt around the truth," Giuliani said in criticizing the speech Romney gave in Detroit on Thursday, when the former Governor insisted that the healthcare plan he championed and signed into law in Massachusetts was essentially different from the President's "ObamaCare." Romney and other Republicans have frequently denounced the Obama plan, enacted early last year, as government overreach. "I don't like it, and I don't think it's helpful to voters," Giuliani said about Romney's defense of the Massachusetts plan. Both Romney's and Obama's programs "have crushing mandates that impose taxes or fines on people if they don't have health care," the ex-Mayor said.

Giuliani was in the state that holds the leadoff presidential primaries to address a conference of the International Association of Emergency Managers at Rivier College in Nashua. As reported in the Telegraph of Nashua, the former federal prosecutor described how his experience in fighting crime helped prepare him for the shocking events of 9/11. "For a lot of people, September 11 was the beginning of Islamic extremist terrorists. For me it goes back to the 1960's and 1970's," he said.

Giuliani served in the U.S. Department of Justice as Associate Deputy Attorney General during the Ford administration of the mid-1970s. He won 4,152 convictions, with 25 reversals, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern district of New York from 1983-89. In 1993, he was elected Mayor of New York while running on both the Republican and Liberal Party tickets. He was reelected in 1997 and was Mayor when Arab terrorists flew two hijacked planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He said in Friday's speech that the truck bombing of the North Tower in 1993 led to the creation of the city's Office of Emergency Management after he took office. Emergency management experts held practice drills for dealing with potential disasters, including attacks on subways and bridges and on the New York Stock Exchange, considered a prime target for terrorists. 

"Practice is the key," he said. "This is the reason football teams practice; this is the reason baseball teams practice, so when they operate under pressure they want to be able to do it in a relaxed way. It's the same way with emergencies."

During his eight years as mayor, Giuliani gained a reputation for being tough on crime, and for cleaning up vice-ridden parts of the city, most notably Times Square. His high-profile "crackdowns" on crimes and public nuisances included the reining in of vagrants approaching motorists at red lights and offering to squeegee their windows clean for a fee.

Giuliani ran for President in 2008 and for much of 2007 was widely considered to be the early front runner. But he made little effort in the early primaries, banking heavily on a win in Florida, with its large population of retired and otherwise transplanted New Yorkers, to give him momentum in the primaries to follow.  He fared poorly, finishing third in the Sunshine State behind eventual nominee John McCain and Romney. He exited the race soon after, endorsing McCain.

In his hour-long speech to the emergency management professionals, the former mayor stressed the all-encompassing preparation needed for dealing with potential disasters and the difficulty of anticipating where the next emergency might arise. "We're always prepared for the last emergency," he said. Giuliani said the federal Department of Homeland Security should "go figure out how prepared we are in every part of America, and set up a baseline — because every part of America is vulnerable," the Herald reported. 

"There's no question that RomneyCare is a big mistake. And there's no question that it's the same as ObamaCare," Giuliani said in the interview that followed. His comments about a potential rival and his appearance in New Hampshire on the same day that Ron Paul was in the state formally announcing his candidacy heightened speculation in the Granite State over what the lineup of Republican hopefuls might be in the nation's first primary early next year.  

"I don't know when I'm going to decide. I don't feel any pressure," Giuliani told the Boston paper. "I feel that the focus I have is the right one, which is how do we win in 2012?"

Photo: Rudy Giuliani