MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Next Tuesday, Florida hosts a big state Republican primary with four major candidates all running hard - John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. Florida is where the former mayor of New York City hopes to catch the field. And it's where our co-host, Robert Siegel, caught up with him.
ROBERT SIEGEL: So much is said about Rudolph Giuliani's unprecedented wait-until-Florida strategy, you could almost forget about something equally unprecedented about his campaign. Giuliani is trying to translate success in New York City politics to a national platform. And that just doesn't happen. But if it can happen anywhere in the vast expanse of America that New Yorkers regard as out of town, it should happen here in Palm Beach Gardens on Florida's Gold Coast.
(Soundbite of crowd)
SIEGEL: Statewide immigrant New Yorkers are not the dominant force in Florida voting that they're sometimes depicted as. But in TooJay's Original Gourmet Delicatessen, the cuisine is New York style deli, many of the people are northeast transplants and the place is as packed as a Triple J deli combo: Corned beef, roast beef, turkey and Swiss cheese with lots of coleslaw.
Mr. RUDY GIULIANI (Former Republican Mayor, New York; Presidential Candidate): You got to tell me where they are. Can I look at this now? You're all over the place.
SIEGEL: After touting his experience at turning around an economy, New York City's, Giuliani sat down for an interview at the West Palm Beach Airport.
Mr. Mayor, welcome to the program.
Mr. GIULIANI: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: If you were president today — the markets have fallen, the Fed has cut interest rates and you're going to meet with Democrats at the White House who want a stimulus package to include direct aid for those who are hurting most, people who don't even benefit from a tax rebate, what do you tell them and what do you tell the country about the state of the economy today?
Mr. GIULIANI: What I'd say is that it is important to do the things that create a sound fiscal situation in this country. And those are fundamental things. We have to lower taxes, we have to reduce government spending and we have to moderate our regulations so that we don't drive businesses and jobs and money out of the United States. And if we do those things, our economy will grow.
SIEGEL: You're talking long term, though. Everyone else in the room is talking short term. We got to stimulate things right now. What would you do right now?
Mr. GIULIANI: Well, the monetary policies that the Fed are pursuing, I think, are the right ones. I think the Fed is doing the right thing, short term. I think there has to be some parts of the short-term stimulus package that the president is discussing with Congress. But I guess the part you're asking me, what would I emphasize, I would emphasize some of the long term permanent changes, because I believe that effects investment. I believe it affects who puts more money in the United States as opposed to putting money somewhere else, who puts more jobs in the United States rather than putting more jobs somewhere else.
If people see a picture, businesses and international financial institutions, see a picture of an America that is based on sound growth fiscal policies, you will see a lot more investment in America.
SIEGEL: But if you were dealing with the Democratic majority in the Congress, which the next president may well have to do, what do you say to the argument stimulus has to include also direct support to people who don't stand together in income tax rebate? A good thing to do and unnecessary compromise? How would you describe it?
Mr. GIULIANI: I would say that looking at the President's package, that's probably in the area that I describe as a compromise. What is he going to have to compromise in order to get the long term package that I think will be the more significant one.
SIEGEL: You would make that sort of compromise at that?
Mr. GIULIANI: Well, I would look at it. I would look at it and I would leave the president the room to accomplish that.
SIEGEL: We asked you about a story — I'm sure you've at least heard about it if not read on the front page of The New York Times today. It's a story about your style of dealing with critics when you were mayor. And I'll read one paragraph from it or one sentence.
Mr. Giuliani was a pugilist in a city of political brawlers. But far more than his predecessors, historians and politicians say his toughness edged toward ruthlessness.
Why did you come up with the reputation of being ruthless, mayor?
Mr. GIULIANI: Well, you have all different kinds of reputations. There are people who look at different aspects of what you did and exaggerated one way or the other. Sometimes you get more praise than you deserve. Sometimes you get more blame than you deserve.
The simple fact is I got very extraordinary results as mayor of New York City. I took a city that was the crime capital of America, turned it into one of the safest cities in America. I took a city that was the welfare capital of America and turned it into the welfare-to-work capital of America. I took a city where people, a lot of them felt a certain degree of hopelessness. Sixty, seventy percent thought the city was going in the wrong direction and turned it to a city where most people thought it was going in the right direction.
SIEGEL: But the incidents that the Time story includes, well, one is about a man who called up your radio show to complain about a red-light sting, and the next thing you knew, the cops arrested him on a 13-year-old traffic warrant that was then thrown out. Somebody - he shot accidentally by the police, somehow his juvenile record gets unsealed. The impression of the story builds up to is payback with something you've expected you crossed…
Mr. GIULIANI: The reality is stories have all different twists to them. They have all different turns to them. People emphasize different things. I believe my time as mayor of New York City led to a city that was safer, city that was stronger; certainly led to a city that was more prosperous. Unemployment, when I started, was 10.5 percent. By the time I ended, it was five percent. If I could make the same kind of changes in stimulating the economy of the United States that I did in stimulating the economy of New York, then the United States would be in a very, very good condition.
SIEGEL: Question about abortion. I want you to clarify this. On the one hand, you are routinely described as pro-choice. On the other hand, you have said that you would appoint judges who'd be strict constructionist. Which is it? If you were a president, would you support a woman's right to have a legal abortion? Would you oppose it? Would you be neutral on the question?
Mr. GIULIANI: My position on abortion is that I would prefer to see a society where there were no abortion, where people made that decision for themselves. But ultimately, I believe, that that decision cannot be made by government that a woman has to have room to make that decision with her conscience, with her doctor in her own way. I do support, however, a ban on partial birth abortion, parental notification. I support parental notification. I support limitations on abortion that would not eliminate…
SIEGEL: But what was called the cynical holding of Roe versus Wade.
Mr. GIULIANI: But ultimately, ultimately, I would not make that decision a litmus test. What I would say is, I would appoint judges who I believed restrict constructionist judges. Judges who would interpret the constitution based on what it means, not what they would like it to mean. And ultimately, I would leave it to them to decide on a whole wide variety of issues. There'd be no one litmus test. It wouldn't be a litmus test about any one particular amendment. And judges who are strict constructionist judges on some of these things could come to somewhat different opinions.
SIEGEL: But just to understand it, it shouldn't be government deciding that? It shouldn't be the federal government or a state government, you're saying?
Mr. GIULIANI: I believe that ultimately, there has to be room left for individual decision making.
SIEGEL: One last question. What do you say to the Florida voter who was at the delicatessen this morning who told me he was interested in you earlier, but by now, he sees you drop in the polls in Florida, you've even dropped in the polls in New York, the strategy isn't going to work and he doesn't think you can win?
Mr. GIULIANI: Well, I think — tell him to take another look. We're doing very well in Florida. On…
SIEGEL: You used to be (unintelligible) last year.
Mr. GIULIANI: But we're doing very well now. And our message is getting through. And the election is going to happen real soon. I believe we're going to win here. And I think that will revive our whole, whole election. It'll take us into February 5th with a tremendous amount of momentum. This is a very fluid race. It's wide open. I would vote, for my choice, I'd vote for the candidate that I thought could do the best job for me. And I would vote for the candidate that I thought would give America the best leadership.
SIEGEL: What do you make of that New York, those New York polls which shows Senator McCain catching you in the Republican primary?
Mr. GIULIANI: Oh, this is function of the horse race and momentum that I think our winning in Florida will turn all that around.
SIEGEL: Mayor Giuliani, thank you very much for talking with us.
Mr. GIULIANI: Thank you.
BLOCK: That was Rudy Giuliani speaking in Florida with our co-host, Robert Siegel. Giuliani was at the West Palm Beach Airport campaigning for next week's Republican primary.
NORRIS: Tomorrow on MORNING EDITION, you can hear Barack Obama talk about what he would do about the economy and about his sparring with the Clintons.
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