George Will: GOP voters "have learned" that Giuliani "doesn't flip-flop"


On ABC's This Week, The Washington Post's George Will asserted "What they [Republican primary voters] have learned about Giuliani is that he doesn't flip-flop. ... [H]e's taken exactly the un-Romney approach to his problem, which was to say, 'Look, this is me. Take it or leave it.' " But as NPR senior news analyst Cokie Roberts said, "[H]e equivocated on guns. He equivocated on abortion."

On the October 14 edition of ABC's This Week, during a discussion of the Republican presidential primary field, Washington Post columnist George F. Will said of candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney: "What they [Republican primary voters] have learned about Giuliani is that he doesn't flip-flop. ... [H]e's taken exactly the un-Romney approach to his problem, which was to say, 'Look, this is me. Take it or leave it.' " ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson then asked, "Did you hear what he said to the NRA?" while National Public Radio senior news analyst and ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts added, "[H]e equivocated on guns. He equivocated on abortion." Host George Stephanopoulos later said, "[H]is basic point is, 'I'm not going to change my principles, but I'm not going to do anything to harm you.' " Media Matters for America has documented numerous inconsistencies in Giuliani's positions on both gun control and abortion.

As Media Matters documented, as mayor of New York City, Giuliani supported federal gun control laws that affected all 50 states, including the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and the national assault weapons ban signed by President Clinton in 1994, which has since expired. On the January 27, 1994, edition of CBS' This Morning, when asked if he endorsed the proposed ban, Giuliani responded: "Doing away with assault weapons? Absolutely." However, earlier this year, Giuliani suggested on his campaign website that he does not support federal gun control laws and that guns should instead be regulated on a state-by-state basis. On June 26, the issues section of his website (accessed through the Internet Archive) read:

Rudy Giuliani is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. When he was Mayor of a city suffering an average of almost 2000 murders a year, he protected people by getting illegal handguns out of the hands of criminals. As a result, shootings fell by 72% and the murder rate was cut by two-thirds. But Rudy understands that what works in New York doesn't necessarily work in Mississippi or Montana.

The gun control section of Giuliani's website has since been revised. As of October 14, the issues section of his website reads:

Rudy Giuliani is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He understands that every law-abiding American has an individual right to keep and bear arms that is guaranteed by the Constitution. To deal with a city where crime was out of control, Mayor Giuliani worked to get guns out of the hands of criminals -- resulting in a 66% drop in the murder rate and 72% reduction in criminal related shootings. The best way to deal with gun crime is to prosecute the criminals and enforce the laws already on the books. Rudy Giuliani will make sure that if someone commits a crime with a gun, they will go to prison for the mandatory sentence.

To watch Rudy's comments on every citizen's Constitutional right to bear arms, please click here.

Additionally, in a September 22 article on Giuliani's speech at the National Rifle Association's "Celebration of American Values Conference," the Los Angeles Times reported that "[i]n Giuliani's clearest break from his mayoral record, he renounced the lawsuit that he ordered the city to file against gun makers in 2000." The article added:

"I think that lawsuit has gone in a direction that I probably don't agree with at this point," Giuliani told several hundred gun-rights supporters at the conference.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, cast a new light on 2nd Amendment rights, he said, and "maybe it highlights the necessity for them more."

Giuliani described the suit as part of his aggressive approach to crime.

"Some people call it excessive," Giuliani said. "I thought it was intense. But the reality is I was trying to achieve a result, which is to reduce crime in New York. That is not necessarily what is needed now. It certainly isn't the interpretation that I think is the correct interpretation of the 2nd Amendment."

Further, as Media Matters has documented, Giuliani has vacillated on the abortion issue at various points in his career as a public official, and this year alone, he has wavered on the desirability of the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade. On the February 5 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity asked Giuliani, "Where does Rudy Giuliani stand on abortion?" Giuliani responded that he "believe[s] in a woman's right to choose," but then encouraged "conservatives" to find similarities in "the way we think," specifically on "the appointment of judges." When asked about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has stated that he would overrule Roe, Giuliani replied that he is "somebody I consider to be a really great judge. ... I do think you have sort of a general philosophical approach that you want from a justice, and I think a strict constructionist would be probably the way I'd describe it." Additionally, during a May 3 Republican presidential debate, Giuliani said that "[i]t would be OK to repeal" Roe, but that "[i]t would be also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent."

On the May 10 edition of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, introducing a report about Giuliani's then-upcoming speech at Houston Baptist University by national political correspondent Mara Liasson, co-host Robert Siegel stated: "Giuliani is the only one of the Republican presidential candidates who supports abortion rights. Recently, his answers to questions about abortion, such as in last week's debate, have caused some confusion." Liasson reported that Giuliani would be making an effort to clarify his position, if not change the topic all together." Liasson then reported: "Tomorrow, Giuliani will speak at Houston Baptist University, where, his aides say, he will reiterate his support for abortion rights, and say that, although there are disagreements about the issue, all sides should respect each other."

Additionally, at the beginning of his 1989 mayoral campaign, Giuliani was a professed opponent of abortion rights, as well as of Roe. By the end of that campaign, however, Giuliani had reportedly shifted his position to one favoring abortion rights, saying, according to the Associated Press, that "he supports abortion rights, and would not seek to reduce funds or services, even though he remains personally opposed." As blogger Greg Sargent noted, in a June 18, 1993, article, The New York Times reported that Giuliani campaign leaflets "said that he opposes restrictions to Federal Medicaid financing for abortions and opposes the Hyde Amendment, which is intended to deny support for that financing." During an April 4 CNN interview, in response to a video from a November 3, 1989, campaign event in which he called for public funding for abortion -- "We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources" -- Giuliani suggested that he holds the same position today, asserting that he would support "public funding" if its denial "would deprive someone of a constitutional right" to an abortion.

However, his director of policy, spokesperson, and campaign aides said -- before the April 4 interview -- that Giuliani's position is that he would not change current law on abortion funding, which prohibits federal funding for abortion except in cases of incest, rape, or life endangerment.

From the October 14 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

ROBERTS: We've been having this conversation. The Republicans have a real problem. But Romney did invite all kinds of attacks, and he's gotten them now from Giuliani -- and Giuliani remains the surprise. We have to say that. I mean, the fact that he is still running so well among Republicans, even after they've gotten to know him better, and know some of his positions and his oddities, he's --

DONALDSON: I would argue with you but I got to take a cell phone call from my wife, Jan. "Hi, honey. Say hello to George Stephanopoulos."

WILL: What they have learned about Giuliani is that he doesn't flip-flop. That it's -- he's taken exactly the un-Romney approach to his problem, which was to say, "Look, this is me. Take it or leave it."

ROBERTS: Well, to some degree. To some degree, he did equivocate on --

DONALDSON: Did you hear what he said to the NRA?

ROBERTS: Yeah, he equivocated on guns. He equivocated on abortion.

DONALDSON: Sure, he didn't completely renounce his gun control past, but boy, he wanted -- he tried to make it sound like that was kind of in the past, had nothing to do with --

ROBERTS: Had to do with New York.

DONALDSON: -- anything except New York City, and nationally, you can trust him on the Second Amendment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but -- yeah, his basic point is, "I'm not going to change my principles, but I'm not going to do anything to harm you."

Posted In
George F. Will
This Week
Rudy Giuliani, 2008 Elections
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