Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hugh & Rudy

Good interview of Rudy Giuliani by Hugh Hewitt.

And by the way, is it just me, or is 'Mayor' not a great moniker for a national politician? It conveys authority and implies leadership; it constantly calls to mind the accomplishments during the tenure (as opposed to say, 'Senator); and it comes across as friendly and approachable. I'm serious: I think the title - and all that goes with it - is worth a few percent of the vote in a national election.

Anyway, about the interview: the most interesting thing to me is how polished Giuliani sounds. He's learned a ton since he first ran for office in New York (nearly 20 years ago). It seems he is a master of his talking points, and always on message. For example:

HH: Richard Land, I’m sure you saw, he was on record this week saying I don’t think Evangelicals will vote for Rudy. I disagree with that, but how do you get past that kind of a block?

RG: Well, I have spent a great deal of time over the last three, four years in various places, talking to many, many people including clergy, who are, who would describe themselves, I think, as Evangelicals, They are. Some of the people working on my campaign are very committed as Evangelical, born again Christians, and I have a great knowledge of religion, and a great respect for it, and I think there’s a great deal of commonality. And I find that when we spend time together, or in other words, I talk to groups that would describe themselves as Evangelical Christians, or very committed to religion, that they come away feeling that on most issues, there’s agreement. There are some disagreements, but that there’s a basic core of looking at the world in very much the same way.

HH: Now the other outsider in this race, Governor Romney, is also getting some Evangelical blowback, because he’s a Mormon. What do you make of that issue?

RG: I think that the Governor’s religion is not an issue in any way in the campaign, and any more than John Kennedy as being a Catholic was an issue, or Senator Lieberman as being Jewish when we ran for vice president. I mean, these things…I think we’re way beyond that, and I don’t think it’ll be an issue. I mean, obviously, by an issue, people will comment on it, but I think the American people have gone way beyond that, and they’re willing…what they want to do is look at the person, and what kind of…how have you performed in public office, what have you done, have you acted as a fair, impartial person in dealing with people of all different religions or whatever. And if that’s the case, those are the issues, not is what is someone’s religion, but how have they acted.

Very smooth. A strong defense of himself, no criticism for his opponent - an above-the-fray approach by the perceived front-runner - with no attempt to overpromise.

I also like this part:

RG: That was the longest speech I ever gave (laughing).

HH: Yes, it was, actually. It may still be going on.

RG: (laughing) I remember it. I remember it.

HH: I was in the back of the room saying who is this guy?

RG: Ted Olson and Bob McConnell, and all my old pals keep…always tease me about that.

HH: You know, you picked up Ted Olson’s endorsement, taking a digression. That’s a big deal. Will he be playing a role in your campaign?

RG: He sure will. I mean, Ted Olson is someone I have…first of all, he’s a very, very good friend. I mean, he’s someone…he’s been my friend since those days, and we’ve been through a lot together. Yes, Ted will play a very big role in my campaign, and I mean, if Ted weren’t my very, very good friend, he’d be somebody I’d still want to rely on as probably one of the biggest experts on the Constitution in this country, and the person who probably has argued before the Supreme Court more than anybody I know.

HH: He or Judge Starr, one of those two are the two most…

RG: He or Ken have probably argued before the Supreme Court more than anyone that I know, and their knowledge of it is remarkable. I mean, it’s a great asset to anybody.

HH: Will he help you pick judges if you are the president, and you’re making Supreme Court selections?

RG: He’d be one of the first people that I’d turn to for advice and help and assistance. And I was involved in the Reagan administration in the judge selection process, although that was run by the deputy attorney general, and I was involved in the U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals. But I watched all of it, and I appointed 100 judges myself. And it’s something I thought of, when I was the Mayor, as one of the most important things that I did.

HH: Did you have a litmus test for those hundred?

RG: No. No, not a litmus test on a single issue, a philosophical test, meaning what I wanted to know was what’s their view of how you interpret the Constitution and laws? Are they…do the Constitution and laws exist as the thing from which you have to discern the meaning and the intent? Or are you going to superimpose your own social views? And I want, I like the first kind of judge, who is a judge who looks to the meaning of the Constitution, doesn’t try to create it.

HH: A pro-life voter looking at you, knowing that you’re pro-choice, but not concerned that presidents really matter so much in that, except as far as judges are concerned, what do you tell them about who you’re going to be putting on the federal bench?

RG: I’m going to say I’d put people like…I mean, the best way to do it is to just say I would, I could just have easily have appointed Sam Alito or Chief Justice Roberts as President Bush did, in fact. I’d have been pretty proud of myself if I had been smart enough to make that choice if I were the president.

HH: Do you expect justices like Roberts and Alito to come out of a Giuliani administration?

RG: I hope. I mean, that would be my goal. I mean, they’re sort of a very high standard, and so is Justices Scalia and Thomas. That would be the kind of judges I would look for, both in terms of their background and their integrity, but also the intellectual honesty with which they interpret the law...

Hugh is either gracious, or on the take. Giuliani slips a mention of Ted Olson into the conversation, which allows him to begin talking about Olson's anticipated role in selection of judges. This had to be the way Giuliani wanted the conversation to go, but Hugh continues as if it was coincidence. Then Giuliani hammers home his message: Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito. Get used to that list; you're going to hear it a lot.

It seems to me that Giuliani is well-prepared for this run.

Update: The PowerLine guys had the same reaction.

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