Giuliani: Romney 'Should Be Exploiting' Libya Attack for Political Gain
Mr. Noun-Verb-and-Nine-Eleven Rudy Giuliani has finally decided to just openly admit that Republicans are happy to exploit the issue of terrorism if they think it will help them win elections -- Top Romney Surrogate Says Romney ‘Should Be Exploiting’ Libya Incident For Political Gain:
Top Mitt Romney surrogate Rudy Giuliani admitted that the GOP is accusing President Obama of covering up the violence that led to the death of an American ambassador in Libya for political gain.
During an appearance on CNN’s Starting Point on Monday, the former New York City mayor argued that the administration is purposely delaying investigations into the incident until after the election to “cover up” its own failures. But asked to substantiate the claim, Giuliani became agitated. He announced that he did not have to give Obama the benefit of the doubt or withhold judgment about the incident until a full investigation is complete because the president is a Democrat [...]
Republicans have a long history of politicizing acts of terrorism for political advantage: from using the 9/11 terrorist attacks to push the country into a war in Iraq, to portraying Democrats as terrorist sympathizers to score political victories in 2002 and 2004. Giuliani himself ran his presidential campaign on a “noun, verb and 9/11” and Romney’s first political instinct upon learning of violence in Libya was to accuse President Obama of apologizing for terrorism and sympathizing with the people who killed Amb. Christopher Stevens.
And as they noted, he was even less subtle during an appearance on Fox the same morning, not that it's all that surprising sine he was griping the entire time on CNN that O'Brien was defending the Obama campaign. He's in a lot friendlier territory over at GOPTV than on O'Brien's show. It seems Republicans have decided they don't need to be any more subtle about their fearmongering than they have been their race-baiting over the last few years. No more code words and dog whistles. It's sirens and blow horns these days.
Full transcript of the CNN interview below the fold.
O'BRIEN: The former Mayor Rudy Giuliani joins us this morning. He's a Romney campaign surrogate. He's also debated Mitt Romney himself in the 2008 campaign. It's nice to have you with us.
FMR. MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, (R) NEW YORK CITY: It's nice to be with you.
O'BRIEN: So talk to me a little about how you think version 2.0 is going to go? We've heard from the administration's side that - I think the word they've used is more engaged or aggressive. "Passionate" was the word.
GIULIANI: It's a different debate, so it's going to be very interesting to compare them. This is very, very different. This is audience - mostly audience questions, so I don't know how aggressive you can get in a debate like that.
O'BRIEN: Yelling at audience members.
GIULIANI: Hardly think you can see a performance like Joe Biden's. If that had been an audience thing, they'd have wondered what the heck he was laughing at. So I think Mitt Romney will be very, very good. As you said, I debated Mitt 11 times. I've watched him debate another 20 times. He's always good. Sometimes he's great, as he was last time. He's never bad. So we know he's going to have a very steady to a very, very good performance.
The president is more of a question. I mean, the last performance was really troubling. I mean, it's the reason I think these polls have gotten so close. His performance was a shock to me. I expected him to be much better. I thought Biden's performance, on reflection, was very damaging to them. I think all that laughing created questions about what the heck he's you laughing at?
O'BRIEN: The campaign said to me, when I asked about it the next morning, and they said, listen, if all Republicans point out is laughing, clearly they have nothing to criticize on that -
GIULIANI: Oh, there's plenty to criticize. I mean, the cover-up of Benghazi, I mean, is startling. In fact, I think.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well -
GIULIANI: Can I finish my statement before you get all upset? I mean, the reality is, he said, "We didn't know they were asking for more security." Where the heck was he? I mean, they were demanding more security. They were begging for more security.
Susan Rice goes on television four days later -- I was on CNN with her that morning - says, "It was a spontaneous demonstration." I knew it wasn't. I knew it wasn't. I'm not part of the administration; I knew it wasn't the day after. And she had to know it wasn't. They were saying it wasn't, the National Security Adviser said it was a terrorist plot.
O'BRIEN: Right, so the White House now is basically saying the State Department dropped the ball, the State Department is looking and saying - listen, I'm just telling you how it goes - and they're saying there's intel issues. But my question is -
GIULIANI: Who put Susan Rice on? The State Department? Or the political people? It was a political appearance on CNN. So what they're really trying to do is they're trying to run out the car (ph). They're going to have this investigation; the investigation will be after the debate, after the election is over, so what they're trying to do is cover up this scandal as much as possible.
O'BRIEN: Calling something a cover up kind of takes it a further step, don't you think?
GIULIANI: No, wait a second. There was - a statement was made, including by the President of the United States, that this was due to this terrible movie about Mohammed.
O'BRIEN: But he actually didn't say it. The verbatim, the actual verbatim of what he said, he did not say it was something other than that, but it was mentioned. But he did not succinctly say, "This was due to a movie."
GIULIANI: He mentioned -
O'BRIEN: Miguel, why don't you pull all these transcripts for me? We have them all in the back room, we can just pull them out. Because I think the specifics --
GIULIANI: Man, am I debating with the president's campaign? I mean, the defense of the president is overwhelming.
O'BRIEN: No, I just like to stick - hold on a second, hold on a second.
GIULIANI: Susan Rice goes out there four days after, says this was a spontaneous demonstration; it clearly wasn't. There was information both in the State Department and the White House that it wasn't. There was no protest in advance.
O'BRIEN: But my question to you, and what I'm saying -
GIULIANI: This sounds like a cover up. I mean, if this weren't a Democratic president, I think all of you people would be crazy.
O'BRIEN: The one thing I'm debating with you is just specifics. So when you quote someone or you paraphrase them, the only thing I ask is that you get that accurate. That's all I ask. So we're going to pull those because you're not; you're a little off as you describe it. That's the only thing I'm debating with you, number one, and I'm asking you -
GIULIANI: But we're also entitled to interpret what the president is saying.
O'BRIEN: Of course you are. I'm just also -
GIULIANI: Without this, like, massive defense of everything he said.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, DIGITAL EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS: Just to sort of pivot off to the next subject, if I may, do you think foreign policy, including Benghazi, is going to play a significant role in the election? Because I would say, my bias is to think actually it's really interesting for us to talk about, but I think people essentially are going to vote on the economy.
GIULIANI: You're right so far. I think it's moving a little. And I think if in fact this becomes a question of the president's lack of leadership, then it cuts into the economy as well. And it's beginning to become like that. The White House -
FREELAND: And do Republicans want to debate on foreign policy or on the economy?
GIULIANI: The White House has been remarkably - the White House has fumbled this, whether it's a deliberate cover up or they're making it look like a cover up, they have fumbled the ball four or five times here.
GIULIANI: Several contradictions. So, excuse me, if, being the fact that I'm Republican, I don't give them, as you do, all the benefit of the doubt.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Mr. Mayor, can I just ask you this, though? It seems to me that every time an American is killed in the line of duty that it represents some kind of failure of intelligence. So what, though, do you think they're trying to cover up here? I mean, I think they've admitted that they didn't - that the intelligence originally was not correct. But now to say that's an intentional cover-up, I think, is really stretching. I mean, why would they try to cover up? What would they be trying to cover up?
GIULIANI: But that's not actually accurate. The intelligence was correct. The next morning, they had information that this was a terrorist attack.
SOCARIDES: But we don't know that.
HOOVER: We do. We do know that. They've essentially said that.
GIULIANI: You guys, you guys got the journal. We may never have found out unless you took the journal. The White House said -
GIULIANI: You guys had to go get the journal. The White House kind of accused you of stealing the journal. But you got the journal of the ambassador that showed that the ambassador was very, very concerned about security. I'm not sure they ever would've put that fact out until after the election was over. You've had to squeeze these facts - you, CBS, and FOX - had to squeeze these facts out.
This is supposed to be the most transparent administration in history? Come on, give me a break. Something funny's going on here. Something's rotten in the state of Denmark.
O'BRIEN: I would completely agree with you that there's been lots of dancing around this issue. My question to you was, when you say something is a cover-up, I think that's a next step forward. That was my only question.
But let's move on. I want to play a little bit of what you said back in February on CBS's "Face the Nation." You were talking about Mitt Romney. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: He has changed his position on virtually everything. He was a traditional moderate Republican, strong on fiscal matters, conservative; strong on foreign policy; but basically socially moderate. And he changed all that.
I am a moderate Republican. That's what I am. So I'd be inclined to support like Mitt Romney, but all those changes in positions give me pause.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Still give you pause?
GIULIANI: No. I resolved it. I looked at President Obama. I said, four more years of President Obama? A disaster for our economy; a confused foreign policy; a Middle East that's falling apart. My goodness, Mitt Romney'd be a lot better than that.
O'BRIEN: Do you think he's been changing positions?
GIULIANI: Look, how is a choice between - neither one of the two men, including me when I ran, none of us are perfect. Pluses, minuses. You talk Romney's pluses and minuses against Obama's pluses and minuses - we got a chance for an economy that could really recover. We got a chance for a Middle East policy that will make some sense. Maybe we won't be having this confusion of first where we want to keep Mubarak in power, and then we change our position on Mubarak. Now it turns out in "The New York Times" we're arming some of the jihadists in Syria. Maybe that's what we did in Libya. We've got a confusing approach to foreign policy.
So I think President Romney would be a lot more focused.
FREELAND: To go back to your sound bite, have you in your own mind come to a conclusion on who is the real Mitt Romney? The moderate guy or the more conservative.
HOOVER: Come on. But I want to hear from the mayor.
FREELAND: Margaret, I love you, but I want to hear from the mayor.
HOOVER: And I'd like him to actually -
O'BRIEN: No, let him answer the question, then you can have a follow- up.
GIULIANI: OK, I'll answer the question. I've come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney is informed by ideology. He's a center right, but he's basically a practical businessperson. And maybe some of my judgment of him comes from my own background. I came into politics in a different way than he did. I came into politics from government service; he came into politics from being a businessperson. I think this is a practical problem-solver. I don't think we're going to see an extreme ideologue in the White House if he becomes President of the United States. Look at his background. Everything else suggests he's going to be a problem-solver.
O'BRIEN: You had a final point you wanted to make. Hang on, John. Go ahead. I feel like I'm -
HOOVER: OK, it's all right. I think the mayor said it very well and I agree with exactly how he portrayed Mitt Romney.
O'BRIEN: And we will leave it there. Mr. Mayor, nice to have you this morning.
GIULIANI: Always a pleasure.
O'BRIEN: We certainly appreciate it.
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