So, yup, there was big overlap between the Hillary event and the Rudy conference call. (All comments transcribed as best I can.)
Rudy began by saying he felt last night’s debate was much better for all of the candidates, in that they had better opportunity to express all of their views. “All of us were challenged on our positions that were controversial or or difficult, but they also had the courtesy to give us a good opportunity to respond and explain our views.”
“I would encourage the Democrats to hold a debate on Fox News. I hope this becomes the standard for future debates, whether it’s on CNN or on MSNBC again.”
Jen Rubin of ABCNews.com, NRO, and just about everywhere else asked about the Senate Iraq vote today. Rudy said the Democrats’ position on Iraq is based not on a lack of patriotism or concern, but a level of denial of what we’re facing. He cited the Fort Dix arrests, and said policymakers have to ask, “will this [policy change] make them bold?”
Blake Dvorak of RealClearPolitics asked about poll numbers. Rudy said, “I don’t pay much attention to polls…” and then pointed out that he’s doing well in the latest Wall Street Journal poll. “We’re pretty excited about where we are. I expect we’ll be up and down in these polls by the end of the year, but I wouldn’t trade where we are for where anybody else is.”
Philip Klein of the American Spectator asked about developments in Israel today. Rudy said we have to remember that “most of the problems within the Palestinian Authority lie with the Palestinian Authority… there’s a mistake in thinking this is something you can bargain over. You can’t bargain with someone who wants to kill you and destroy you… The Palestinians need to make a commitment that Israel has a right to exist… We romanticized Arafat. The approach in the 1990s was a terrible mistake and it cost us a lot of lives.”
I noted that judging by the audience reaction, the Republican base isn’t all that interested in hearing Ron Paul’s theories of blowback, and so I’m wondering if we’ve heard everything we need to hear from Paul. Should he be in future debates?
Rudy said, “I wasn’t sure I would ever hear that kind of a comment at a Democratic debate, nevermind a Republican one. The last time I heard something like that was from that Saudi Prince… I was really surprised that there was this much confusion in what he was saying, that because we attacked Iraq in the 1990s that the 9/11 attacks occurred… I’m still having a hard time getting a grasp on what he was trying to say. This isn’t about Iraq or about Israel and Palestine… they hate us because we won’t submit.”
Matt Lewis asked about torture; Rudy gave comments more or less in the vein of his comments last night. I admit, I couldn’t hear very well during this, because Hillary’s entourage was going by me.
The next question came from a blogger at GraniteGrok who asked about a cultural war, expressed in the Joe Doe legislation needed to protect those who alert authorities to what they fear are potential terrorists, and the controversy over Muslim cab drivers outside the Minneapolis airport who won’t carry passengers who have alcohol in their duty-free bags.
Rudy said that wasn’t what he had in mind [in earlier comments? I must have missed that.] He said he had been thinking of the video of Palestinian television where a Mickey-Mouse like character encourages a girl to kill people in Israel, and, Rudy believed, Americans and George W. Bush. He also cited the documentary “Obsession.”
The final question came from Bill Bradley, who asked Rudy to define the difference between torture and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Rudy said he would leave the difference to “the people who do it.” (I cannot imagine that he believes torture should be defined by torturers.) He also cited the Geneva convention, but added, “there is no bright line test.” He said he was reading George Tenet’s book, and that Tenet seemed to be very familiar with the subject and said the current techniques were effective. He said he would describe the technique discussed in last night’s debate (was it waterboarding? I don’t remember them getting specific) “an aggressive technique.” He added that it is acceptable to say America shouldn’t do something because (paraphrased) it is not in our national character, but not because we expect reciprocity from our enemies.