Bloomberg: Rudy Giuliani criticized Senator Barack Obama for saying the U.S. should hold talks with Iran, calling the Illinois Democrat’s stance “naïve” and “sad.” By Hans Nichols
Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) — Rudy Giuliani criticized Senator Barack Obama for saying the U.S. should hold talks with Iran, calling the Illinois Democrat’s stance “naïve” and “sad.”
“This may be one of the few areas in which I agree with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani said. Obama is “falling over himself, begging to negotiate,” said Giuliani, who’s seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He’s displaying “a great deal of inexperience and is very, very naïve,” he said, echoing comments Clinton made after a debate in July.
Giuliani also criticized Senator John McCain for his blanket rejection of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning, saying “intensive questioning works” for potential terrorism suspects. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has “never been responsible as a mayor for the safety and security of millions of people,” Giuliani said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” scheduled to air this weekend.
“Intensive questioning has to be used; torture should not be used,” said Giuliani. “The line between the two is a difficult one.” He criticized Congress for asking Michael Mukasey, President George W. Bush’s nominee for attorney general, to declare waterboarding torture when Congress itself has not.
It’s unfair for senators to “try and ask Mukasey to draw that line,” he said, “If it’s illegal, darn it, then vote for it.” Mukasey’s prospects of becoming attorney general faltered after he declined to say whether waterboarding amounts to torture under U.S. law.
Giuliani also said he would offset a sweeping list of tax cuts that he has proposed with “a lot of spending reduction,” while arguing that lower taxes produce revenue. He has proposed extending the Bush tax cuts and enacting new reductions for individuals, investors and businesses.
He said some of his spending cuts would include significant reductions in the government’s non-defense workforce, claiming common cause with proposals by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “The government has not taken the benefit of high technology yet the way businesses have,” he said.
Need Bipartisan Support
Social Security and Medicare also need to be overhauled, and an independent commission should decide where benefits can be reduced, he said.
“You would have to have bipartisan support,” said Giuliani. He ruled out any tax increases, acknowledging that an overhaul will likely include benefit cuts or increases in retirement-eligibility ages.
He also said, “It’s quite possible to create private accounts, personal accounts, personal options.”
Bush failed to sell the country on personal accounts as an alternative to Social Security because there was “an explanation problem.”
On health care, Giuliani criticized Mitt Romney’s plan for universal coverage in Massachusetts, saying the approach by Romney and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California was the same as that proposed by Hillary Clinton; it’s tantamount to socialized medicine, he said, noting that Romney, his rival for the Republican nomination, has backed away from his Massachusetts plan. “I think Mitt Romney would tell you it’s the same approach, and it’s a mistake for the rest of the country,” said Giuliani.
‘Don’t Beg Your Enemy’
The former mayor of New York had nicer words for the current occupant of the White House, saying he “would pursue the same basic policy of being on offense against terrorism.”
On Iran, he said premature negotiations wouldn’t lead to greater security for America. “You don’t beg your enemy to negotiate with you; you change the leverage,” he said. The Democrats, in trying to cite President Ronald Reagan’s negotiations with the Soviets, “totally misunderstand what Ronald Reagan did.”
“Ronald Reagan changed the leverage. He changed the power position,” said Giuliani. “Barack Obama doesn’t have the slightest idea how to do that. I mean, it’s sad actually.”
Obama told the New York Times in an interview published today that he would “engage in aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran if he were elected president. He said he would also offer economic incentives and promise not to seek “regime change.”
‘Clear Policy Choice’
Said Giuliani, “We should make a very clear policy choice: We will not allow them to become” a nuclear power. “We will use the military option if in our judgment they are going to become nuclear, because it’s too dangerous for us and for the world.”
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the Democrat believes in “tough and direct diplomacy” with Iran.
“While Rudy Giuliani may embrace Hillary Clinton’s policy of not talking and saber rattling towards Iran, Barack Obama knows that policy is not working,” Burton said in a statement.
Giuliani also chuckled at the prospect of two New Yorkers battling it out for the presidency, with Clinton, a New York senator, leading the Democratic field for the nomination. He said regional differences aren’t as great as he thought before he began his campaign.
“I think there is a real recognition all over the country that we are more the same than we are different,” he said.