- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday cited his tenure as New York City mayor when detailing his foreign-policy experience, asserting he is as well-versed on international issues as any other candidate in the race.

“What makes you think the mayor of New York City doesn’t need a foreign policy?” he said to laughter from about 200 people gathered at the Willard Hotel for a Hoover Institution luncheon.

“It’s something that I think I know, I think I know as well as anybody else who’s running for president, probably better than a lot. … As the mayor of New York City, I guess I was familiar with every single one of the foreign-policy issues that affected us during the 1990s,” he said, adding that since he stepped down, he has made more than 90 international trips.

While Mr. Giuliani’s closest rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, comes out ahead in recent polls when respondents are asked who would best handle the situation in Iraq and other international crises, one recent poll showed the mayor with an edge over the senator on terrorism, leading 53 percent to 41 percent.

But Mr. Giuliani is seeking to catch up on international issues.

“Foreign policy has always been an area of great interest for me, and I’ve read about it and thought about it a lot,” he said. “I think it’s an area I know, I feel comfortable with, and it’s my job to display that during the Republican primary and, if I get to the next step, I hope, the race for president.”

The mayor, who spoke yesterday in broad philosophical terms with the members of the leading policy think tank, has been criticized as weak on foreign policy. But George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, both governors, also lacked international bona fides and were able to overcome their shortcomings, and presidential historian Stephen Hess said Mr. Giuliani can do so, too.

“You can rise above it. Lots of folks haven’t had significant experience, but they manufacture experience,” Mr. Hess said. “But remember, governors are much more likely to be presidential candidates, and they usually lack that experience.”

Dubbed “America’s Mayor” after his performance in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York City, Mr. Giuliani is courting conservatives on foreign policy, even as he continues to espouse the kind of liberal social-policy views that have infuriated some Republicans.

Mr. Giuliani used yesterday’s speech to address his past as a Democrat and what made him shift to the Republican Party, drawing laughter when he quoted Winston Churchill as saying: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart, but if you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 40, you have no brain.”

“I don’t think anything separates us more right now between Republicans and Democrats than how we look at taxes,” he said. “What Democrats really believe … is that it is essentially a government economy.”

Mr. Giuliani, who endorsed Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo over Republican challenger George E. Pataki in 1994, said he struggled with the perception of the Republican Party as too hard on the poor, but then “I finally came to the conclusion that we care about the poor more.”

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