Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani tells National Review Online that he is seriously considering a 2012 presidential run. “I’m like a running back that has the ball and I’m looking for openings,” he says. “A crowded [field] may be good, from my point of view.”
But has America’s Mayor, now 66, learned any lessons from his stalled 2008 campaign? “I sure have,” he chuckles. “You have to win New Hampshire.” That, of course, is a different tune than four years ago, when he placed all of his bets on Florida.
“If you want to talk historically about how people get nominated president — there are probably some exceptions to this — you’ve got to win one of the first two [contests],” Giuliani observes. Come next January, the Granite State, he posits, could enable a moderate frontrunner to emerge, even if they don’t have much momentum coming out of the Iowa caucuses.
“Last time we had split decisions,” Giuliani says. “Huckabee won the first and McCain won the second; Obama won the first and Hillary won the second. That’s normally the case. There’s something about it — New Hampshire seems to vote for somebody other than who won in Iowa.”
A Giuliani ’12 effort would likely emphasize his ideas on domestic policy, which did not get much play in 2008, when his ads often focused on national security. The recent repeal vote against President Obama’s health-care law, Giuliani says, “sets us up for the 2012 election, which I think will be about Obamacare.”
Giuliani argues that Republicans must articulate a clear competing vision on this front in coming months, fighting the Democrats on specifics. On the Hill, he would like to see the GOP push for malpractice reform, interstate purchase of insurance, and tax breaks to incentivize individuals to purchase their own policy. “I’m certainly going to advance this viewpoint,” he says. “And if I think I can be helpful running, I will.”
“When I ran for president, I spent a lot of time on health care, for what was probably an incorrect tactical reason,” Giuliani says, noting his personal interest in the issue. Now, however, he thinks his ’08 health-care platform — which championed the right of the individual to decide — could be a real boost, especially as he mulls jumping into the fray.
Other potential 2012 hopefuls, Giuliani says, will need to be pressed on health care. “Mitt has to explain RomneyCare — that’s going to be a big issue for him.” Moving away from mandates, both state and federal, is crucial, he says.
“That’s the real danger of Obamacare,” Giuliani says. “You’re going to take it from a little state like Massachusetts, where you’re making those decisions for a few million people, and move it to a whole, big office building in Washington to decide what constitutes one’s health insurance.”
If Giuliani runs, it won’t be just as a wonk. As a product of Big Apple politics, don’t expect him to pull punches as he wades back into the national debate. Turning to the Tucson tragedy, for example, he says that Sarah Palin, another potential presidential candidate, did not stumble in her video response to critics.
“I think Palin handled it fine,” Giuliani says. “I think you have a right to defend yourself. I’d get pretty angry if someone accused me of being an accessory to murder. I take my reputation seriously. I think they went over the top in what they did to her.”
Civil debate, he adds, should always be encouraged, but Republicans should not be afraid to speak up about hypocrisy. “Look at [Rep. Steve] Cohen, accusing Republicans of being like Goebbels and Nazis — that didn’t sound too civil. I wonder if he got a call from the president, saying ‘Don’t talk like that, Steve.’”
“The reality is that while the president was telling everyone to be civil, all of his pals were out there trying to blame Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh for the attack,” Giuliani sighs.