Departing Giuliani Throws Support to McCain

Exiting the presidential race, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani offers a warm endorsement of erstwhile rival John McCain. Giuliani called the Arizona senator "the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief."

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at the Ronald Reagan library yesterday, but not to join the Republican debate that was scheduled for their -later. He was there to official announce his exit from the race and simultaneously endorse Senator John McCain.

NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.

INA JAFFE: If Rudy Giuliani wanted a huge crush of reporters to witness his official withdrawal from the presidential race, he picked the right place.

The media were out in force for the final Republican debate before Super Tuesday. But Giuliani said that the real reason that the Reagan library was the right place for this event was…

Mr. RUDY GIULIANI (Former Republican Mayor, New York): Because President Reagan's leadership remains an inspiration for both John McCain and for myself.

JAFFE: But before Giuliani announced what everyone already knew, he took a moment to reflect. When you run for president, he said, you spend a lot of time thinking about what qualities a president should have.

Mr. GIULIANI: Someone who can be trusted in times of crisis. Someone with a clear vision about the challenges facing our nation. Someone with the will and perseverance to get great goals accomplished. Obviously, I thought I was that person.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GIULIANI: The voters made a different choice.

JAFFE: Giuliani spent relatively little time talking about himself, however, instead using the few minutes he spoke to praise McCain.

Mr. GIULIANI: John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States. He is an American hero and America could use heroes in the White House. He's a man of honor and integrity. And you can underline both, honor and integrity.

JAFFE: Giuliani began his campaign as the national front-runner but with an unorthodox strategy. He skipped the Iowa caucuses and other early contests to focus on Florida. A win there was supposed to give him momentum for the more than 20 races on February 5th. But, instead, it was McCain who won Florida and Giuliani finished the distant third.

In accepting Giuliani's endorsement, McCain portrayed him the way Giuliani has portrayed himself during his campaign, as the hero of 9/11.

Senator JOHN McCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Presidential Candidate): And I saw Rudy Giuliani unite this nation in a way that made us all proud. And all of us where were recommitted to defeating the terrible evil that attacked New York City on September 11th.

JAFFE: Giuliani said he'd campaign for McCain in New York and California, wherever he could be useful.

Mr. GIULIANI: I am fully aboard 100 percent. I don't do things halfway. I do them 100 percent. And when I believe in a man like I do John McCain, this will become, to me, as important as my own election was.

JAFFE: But in recent weeks, Giuliani has trailed McCain in the polls in California and even in his home state of New York. And after last night's debate in which McCain and Mitt Romney fought tooth and nail over who's more conservative, it's unclear how helpful this endorsement from the moderate Giuliani will be, says political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe.

Ms. SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE (Political Analyst): That small percentage of Republicans who voted for Giuliani will move to McCain. They would have done it anyway.

JAFFE: Later today, McCain is expected to wrack up a more important endorsement, at least in the delegate-rich state of California, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gives him his backing.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: