Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, the exclusive guest on Meet the Press with Tim Russert Sunday, spent almost the entire program fending off fierce questioning from the host.
GOP hopeful Giuliani was given little time to expound on his success reducing New York's crime rate, bringing the city back from fiscal insolvency, and leading the city in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
"Would it be appropriate for a president to provide Secret Service protection for his mistress?" Russert queried in one heated exchange, after Giuliani admitted he provided New York City police protection to his girlfriend Judith Nathan.
In one of the few questions dealing with policy matters, Giuliani, asked about his position vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear weapons program, made clear he had no intention to attack Iran if elected president.
"Of course we don’t want to use the military option," Giuliani said, but quickly added, "It would be dangerous; it would be risky."
"But I think it would be more dangerous and more risky if Iran did become a nuclear power," Giuliani explained. "We should utilize sanctions. We should utilize as much pressure as we’re capable of. But the fact that that is there, that military option is there -- not taken off the table -- ultimately increases the pressure, doesn’t it?"
Here is a sampling of Russert's hard-hitting questions to Giuliani:
Iran and Norman Podhoretz:
"Norman Podhoretz, who’s an adviser of yours on foreign policy, this is what he wrote: 'The case for bombing Iran. I hope and pray that President Bush will do it,' by Norman Podhoretz: And then this interview: 'Norman Podhoretz believes that
American needs to go to war soon with Iran. As far as he knows, Rudy Giuliani thinks the same thing.
“‘I was asked to come in and give him a briefing on the war, World War IV,' said Mr. Podhoretz, a founding father of neoconservatism and leading foreign policy adviser to Mr. Giuliani. 'As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.’”
Do you believe that, like Norman Podhoretz, that we should bomb Iran as soon as logistically possible?
Quitting the Iraq Study Group:
"The Iraq Study Group, headed by Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton, appointed you as a member. And then you quit. This is what Newsday wrote about that: 'Giuliani’s membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end in the spring of ‘06 after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel’s top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit. Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group in May of ‘06 after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the ‘08 race, the Iraq war. He cited ‘previous time commitments’ in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why -- the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani’s lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months...
'He quit the group during the busiest stretch in ‘06, when he gave 20 speeches in a single month that brought in $1.7 million.'
Why would you quit a panel looking and examining the Iraq Study Group, in order to make money from speeches?"
On Bernard Kerik's Appointment:
"Another issue where your judgment has been questioned, Bernard Kerik, your police commissioner. Here’s how the Daily News reported it: 'Bernard Kerik lied, schemed and sold out the city -- all under the nose of his mentor and pal, presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. That is the stark portrait painted in the 16-count indictment unsealed in Federal Court. The indictment charges Kerik with conspiracy, tax fraud, making false statements depriving the city of his honest services. If convicted, he faces up to 142 years in prison, up to $4.75 million in fines. The indictment starts in ‘98, after Giuliani made Kerik correction commissioner, continues through 2000, when he named him police commissioner, and ends in 2006.'
"And there are reports, Mr. Mayor, that according to Mr. Kuriansky, involved in the city investigative unit, that he briefed you and Dennison Young about Bernard Kerik and his relationship with Lawrence Ray before you appointed him police commissioner, and there are documents that demonstrate this. Mr. Ray, as you well know, was the best man for Bernard Kerik, had been indicted for his involvement in a company called Interstate Industrial. Do you recall the warning you were given about Mr. Kerik?"
Giuliani's Relationship with Qatar:
"And here’s an article that was written by The Wall Street Journal: 'Giuliani could face questions about his business ties if he wins his party’s nomination. The Qatar contract offers a window into the political potential complications. While Qatar is a U.S. ally, it has drawn scrutiny for its involvement in the U.S. effort to combat terrorism. In ‘96, the FBI went to Qatar to arrest al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, then under indictment in New York for a plot to blow up U.S.-bound jetliners. But Mr. Mohammad slipped away, apparently tipped off by an al-Qaeda sympathizer in the Qatari government, U.S. officials told the bipartisan September 11th commission. Mr. Mohammad went on to mastermind the September 11th, 2001 attacks.'
"Salon.com asked you this question: 'Are you aware that the interior minister appointed in 2001 and reappointed this year by the emir of Qatar is Abdullah al-Thani, the former minister of Islamic affairs and a strict Wahhabi Muslim who has been identified in U.S. press and government reports as a protector of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?'"
NYPD Protection for Girlfriend:
"[A]bout your security details for your then-girlfriend Judi Nathan. Here’s a photograph of her walking her dog being escorted by a New York City policeman. This headline in the Daily News now with 'New questions over security details for Rudy’s girlfriend, driving Miss Judi.' Bernard Kerik had said that there had been no police protecting Miss Nathan until December 2000. Now your folks have told the Daily News that, in fact, there was some security before that date. Why was it appropriate for you to give axpayer-funded security to your girlfriend?"
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