- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

MASON CITY, Iowa — Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday said that if elected, he wants to expand to the nation the adoption policies he championed in New York City as a way of combating abortion.

Mr. Giuliani said New York’s adoption rate went up 133 percent after his eight years as mayor because of tax credits and programs such as adoption fairs and “Adoption Saturdays,” which had judges come in on weekends just to help finalize adoptions. In the same time period, the number of abortions in the city dropped 16 percent.

“I would like to do that for America,” he said. “I would like to see adoptions increase dramatically, and I would like to see women considering abortion have that option available to them.”

Abortion is a critical issue for Republicans in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation contest for the presidential nomination. Mr. Giuliani, who is the only pro-choice candidate in the Republican field, is trying to establish common ground with pro-life voters.

“People of good conscience have honest disagreements about abortion. I think it’s our job to try to figure out how can we all work together to understand each other and try to do productive things for our society,” he told Iowans at a town-hall meeting in Mason City.

The Democratic National Committee sent out a statement challenging Mr. Giuliani’s adoption figures, citing press reports that the rate of adoption dropped most of Mr. Giuliani’s years as mayor.

Abortion continues to roil the Republican field, with Mitt Romney, who underwent a conversion from pro-choice to pro-life as governor of Massachusetts, on Sunday saying being pro-choice was the single biggest mistake of his life.

He then attacked Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, another presidential hopeful who has criticized Mr. Romney’s recent conversion, saying the senator was taking a “holier-than-thou” approach because he had been pro-life longer.

Mr. Brownback, appearing on conservative talk radio host Jan Mickelson’s program yesterday, stood by his accusation that Mr. Romney has only recently flip-flopped on the issue.

In his town-hall meeting, Mr. Giuliani said he was wrong to have supported the campaign-finance law that took effect in 2003 and irks groups on both the left and right, who say it stifles free speech.

“Now that I see it play out in a couple of elections, I think it was a mistake. We should get much closer to allow people to realize their rights of free speech,” Mr. Giuliani said in response to a question, though he didn’t provide any more details.

The law was sponsored by Sen. John McCain, one of Mr. Giuliani’s opponents for the presidential nomination, and Mr. Giuliani said his rejection of the bill is not a reflection on the Arizona senator.

For his part, Mr. McCain was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, yesterday calling for Congress to pass a law that would protect private property from being taken solely for economic development purposes under eminent domain.

He criticized the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling that expanded states’ and localities’ ability to take private property. He said he would appoint “strict constructionist” judges who would not tread on private property, and, “if need be, I would seek to amend the Constitution to protect private-property rights.”