GIULIANI: Dems ‘More Concerned About Terrorist Rights Than American People’

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Former New York Mayor and GOP presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani went to bat for the McCain campaign today and hammered home the campaign’s message that Sen. Barack Obama and the Democrats are weak on terrorism. Giuliani made appearances on behalf of the Arizona senator on cable news programs this morning, before taking part in a McCain campaign conference call with reporters.

In the call, Giuliani attacked statements made yesterday by Obama surrogates Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush:

"The remarks that were made yesterday by several people in the Obama camp, that if [Osama] bin Laden were taken to Guantanamo, he would be given habeas corpus rights, is startling. Again, a reminder of maybe where they’re going on the Democratic side and what we would have in store for us if we had a Democratic presidency. The reality is there seems to be more concern about the rights of terrorists — or alleged terrorists — than the rights that the American people have to safety and security."

However, as Kerry noted yesterday, about the recent Supreme Court decision, Boumediene v. Bush, McCain would also be obligated to recognize Osama bin Laden’s right to habeas corpus, in the event he were captured. From yesterday’s Obama campaign conference call with reporters:

"The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that [detainees] have those rights. It’s not Barack Obama…If John McCain were president, he’d have to give them those rights. This is a phony argument."

Giuliani reiterated the McCain campaign’s attempts to label Obama as having a pre-Sept. 11 mindset.

This is only one of many issues that I believe are going to emerge over the next three to four months, of a dramatically different approach to dealing with terrorism. In the case of Sen. McCain, a willingness to accept it for what it is and to be on offense against it — which would include using the criminal justice system, but not end there; and the approach that Sen. Obama would take — very similar, as we saw yesterday in the remarks of Sen. Kerry, to the traditional approach the Democrats have wanted to take to it, which is to go back to the pre-Sept. 11 approach of ‘deal with it as a criminal justice matter, deal with it as a defensive matter, deal with it as a matter of negotiation.’

When asked how the McCain campaign would respond to Clarke’s assertion that Obama has developed a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy for combating terrorism, Giuliani ducked the question. Instead, he restated the McCain campaign’s attacks on statements Obama made in an interview Monday about the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.

"He seems to think that the 1993 situation was handled completely correctly. That is the paradigm. He selected that language, I didn’t select it. The reality is there’s nothing wrong with having prosecuted the people that committed the acts of terrorism in 1993. It’s the failure to recognize that you had to go further than that, that this was an ongoing, in essence loosely-defined conspiracy, and that we had to treat it also as an act of war, and that in fact they declared war against us when they attacked us domestically. We didn’t recognize that even as late as the [bombing of the U.S.S.] Cole. An attack on an American vessel is traditionally considered an act of war. We considered it something less than that. It seems to me that Sen. Obama is of that mindset. That is suggested by many of the things he said."


The New York Times reported Saturday that Giuliani has offered to appear with Republican candidates, but with a condition — Giuliani gets some of the dough from any fund-raiser he attends to pay off his own outstanding campaign debts. The timing of Giuliani’s appearances on behalf of McCain today raises the question of whether a financial arrangement has been worked out between the two former competitors. Let’s see if Giuliani begins showing up at McCain fund-raisers.

One other interesting development in this morning’s conference call was Giuliani’s use of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s criticism of Obama as being naive and inexperienced on foreign policy.

"We could point to many, many examples during the debates where the words irresponsible and naive were applied to Sen. Obama — but not by a Republican — by Hillary Clinton. I know that she’d probably be in a different position now, but these are issues that Hillary Clinton very dramatically pointed out during the Democratic primary."

Some Democratic Party leaders expressed concern that the protracted primary season would bloody the eventual nominee and provide grist for GOP attacks during the general election campaign. Now that the McCain campaign is attempting to turn those attacks against the Democrats, will this strategy be effective in fomenting doubts about Obama’s strength as a leader in the minds of independent voters — and former Clinton supporters?

Categories & Tags: McCain| Politics|


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