Giuliani weathers attacks during Iowa debate
BY TOM BRUNE
August 6, 2007
DES MOINES - Toward the end of yesterday morning's GOP presidential debate
here in the heartland, each of the nine candidates was asked to describe in
30 seconds a defining mistake in their lives.
When the question came to Rudy Giuliani, he shrugged, lifted his arms and
eyebrows, and said to much laughter, "To have a description of my mistakes
in 30 seconds?"
Prodded to answer by the debate's moderator, ABC's George Stephanopoulos,
whose father is a Greek Orthodox priest, Giuliani shot back, "Your father is
a priest. I'm going to explain it to your father, not to you, OK?"
That quip - one of the best of the debate - won Giuliani a pass on the
question as he fended off attacks on his pro-abortion stance, downplayed
recently highlighted sensitive personal issues and stressed his roles as a
national security hawk and experienced big city mayor.
"The three leading Democratic candidates ... haven't held an executive
office in their lives," Giuliani said. "But the reality is, you've got to
have some kind of experience for this job."
In the 90-minute debate, aired on ABC's "This Week," the Republican
candidates sought to distinguish themselves by showing differences on issues
such as taxes and, following the Minneapolis bridge collapse, fixing
Even though this fourth GOP debate, held at Drake University, was nationally
televised, the debaters largely aimed their remarks at the conservative
Republican voters who will take part in next week's Iowa presidential straw
poll. But some of those voters said they missed the debate because it aired
while they were in church.
With Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain skipping the straw poll,
second-tier candidates used the debate to boost themselves as they hurled
jabs at each other and at Mitt Romney, the Iowa front-runner.
The debate resulted in no major gaffes and no major breakthroughs, said
Drake political science professor Dennis Goldford, though it and the straw
poll will, he said, "likely thin the herd."
On foreign policy, the nine candidates showed near-unanimity, with all but
Texas Rep. Ron Paul standing by the president on Iraq and all taking shots
at Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential hopeful.
"He's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week," said Republican
Mitt Romney of Obama, who last week said he'd meet with U.S. enemies, then
later said he would consider unilaterally bombing al-Qaida in Pakistan.
Giuliani was questioned about remarks he made last week that sounded as if
he were agreeing with Obama's statement on bombing Pakistan. But Giuliani
insisted he merely said he would retain the option.
His abortion stance also came under fire. Stephanopoulos played a tape of
Romney in March attacking Giuliani for being "pro-choice ... pro-gay
marriage and anti-gun."
Giuliani said he supports the Second Amendment, believes marriage should be
between a man and woman, and that abortion should be discouraged and
"Ultimately, a woman should make that [decision] with her conscience," he
said, "and ultimately with her doctor."
The answer won applause.
But former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said a GOP presidential nominee who
supports abortion rights would create problems with "the party of pro-life."
The perception that his nomination would shatter the conservative Christian
and business coalition that has elected Republicans to the White House is
something Giuliani will have to address during his three-day campaign trip
through Iowa, which began yesterday.
After attending a high-society hospital charity event in Southampton
Saturday night, Giuliani almost did not make it to Des Moines in time for
Speaking later at a campaign stop at the Tic Toc Restaurant in Boone, he
said he had gotten only an hour and a half of sleep before the debate after
his private plane was delayed by bad weather in Des Moines and fog in New
York on Saturday night. He finally arrived in Des Moines 45 minutes before