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Giuliani in New Hampshire

It's a full-tilt presidential campaign among Republicans in New Hampshire. Former Governor Mitt Romney spends the whole day in the state Thursday. Wednesday, U.S. Senator John McCain, of Arizona, made it official when he told a Portsmouth audience that he's running for President.

The announcement came at a time when McCain seems to need to recharge his campaign. He trails Romney in fund-raising. And a recent poll has Giuliani trailing front runner John McCain.

WBUR's Fred Thys was with Giuliani this week, and has this report.

TEXT OF STORY:

RUDY GIULIANI: I believe that this country can only be safe at a time when these terrorists are at war with us is if we learn the lessons of September 11, 2001.

FRED THYS: Rudy Giuliani spent most of the day trying to capitalize on his experience as mayor of New York on 9/11. At New England College, in Henniker, he gave an impassioned response to a man in the audience who accused President Bush of undercutting basic freedoms in his pursuit of terrorists.

GIULIANI: You gave an extremely exaggerated presentation of things, and you didn't point out the other fact, and that is we haven't been attacked. If you had asked me on September 11th, 2001, and I have a fair amount of expertise in security, terrorism, crime, that sort of thing, if you had asked me my opinion, I would have told you that we were going to get attacked multiple times. Not only would I have given you that opinion, so would have just about everybody in the FBI, everybody in law enforcement. There are people in this world that are organized, and they're organizing around the notion of coming here to attack us and kill us, and they're organizing to do that overseas.

THYS: Marty Capodice, of Hopkinton, had asked the question.

GIULIANI: When he answered my question about taking away individual rights, what I heard from him is that anything that you want to do is okay if we can make you safer by doing that. By making you afraid and instilling fear in you, we then have the right to protect you.This is a subject that I feel strongly about, and I felt that we are at polar opposites on this issue. I'm not a single-issue voter and I will look at the entire record, but very little of what he said today got me turned on.

THYS: Capodice was once a registered Republican. He's now an independent, though he says he almost always votes Republican. This time, he says he's going to vote in the Democratic primary.

CAPODICE: I'm almost positive. I think that the Democratic candidates are vastly superior to the Republican candidates so far.

THYS: Some people called Giuliani on apparent inconsistencies in his positions. Last week, he praised a Supreme Court decision allowing a ban on what opponents call "partial birth abortion". Pointing out that this position seemed to contradict a stand Giuliani had taken as mayor of New York, one man asked if he thinks he can pass muster with conservatives in the Republican primaries. Giuliani explained his change of mind.

GIULIANI: The reality is that the partial birth abortion ban, the bill that was being discussed back then in the nineties, I didn't think made adequate exception for the life of the mother, and I thought that the whole way in which it was developed would not make that kind of exception for the life of the mother.

THYS: The man who asked the question, economist Peter Bearse, of Fremont, wasn't sold.

PETER BEARSE: He did very well handling the questions, but where he started slow, and where I have to stop and think is to what extent can he, as a leading light among mayors nationwide, or even worldwide, how can he grow into a presidential role?

THYS: Bearse says right now, he likes U.S. Senator John McCain better than any of the other Republican candidates.

BEARSE: I think the guy has a great deal of integrity. He is a core conservative, which I am.

GIULIANI: That's the most applause a Yankee fan has ever gotten here, I think.

THYS: That night, Giuliani was the keynote speaker at the Rockingham County Republican dinner, held at The Yard, on the Manchester-Londonderry line. He accused Democrats of playing defense in the war on terror, which he said is one and the same with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the war in Iraq.

GIULIANI: We're not at war because we want to be at war. We're at war because they are at war with us. In fact, they were at war with us long before we even realized it. They were at war with us going back to the early nineties, maybe even earlier than that, maybe in the eighties and the seventies. Look at all the Americans killed by the PLO. Look at all the Americans killed by Hezbollah and Hamas. I'm not just talking about citizens of other countries. I'm talking about Americans. Look at the attack inj 1993 at the World Trade Center. A lot of people think they came to America for the first time on September 11, 2001, terrible attack, worse than Pearl Harbor. They came here and killed us. They came here and killed us before that.

THYS: It was a message that resonated with Bruce Scammon, an engineer from Stratham whose family hosted a rally on their farm for President Bush in the final days of the 2004 campaign.

BRUCE SCAMMON: I would say I'm definitely leaning towards the mayor. I think that when he talks about learning from history, from the '93 attack, and maybe some of the other things, the Cole, he's out there making that message that you need to move forward in a positive manner and in a strong manner, not a laid-back defensive manner, as he discussed. That hit home to me, because without a strong national defense, without security here in our nation, nothing else matters. The economy goes by the wayside. All social issues go by the wayside.

THYS: Most New Hampshire Republican voters seem to disagree. In the recent UNH poll, only 4% of likely voters in the Republican primary mentioned homeland security as the most important issue, compared with 29 per cent who cited the war in Iraq. Sitting next to Scammon, John Sangenario, the Hampton town chairman for Bush in 2004, wasn't persuaded to switch over to Giuliani.

JOHN SANGENARIO: Right now, we're supporting Romney. I've been working on the theory that all the other candidates on our side, and a lot on the other side, have so much baggage it's going to be tough for them to get a consensus vote in the general election except for Romney. What have they got against him? Nothing. So far, he's doing very well. In New Hampshire, he's doing very well. I think he's far out in front on the organizing element.

FRED THYS: The UNH poll released earlier this month found that Romney is gaining on McCain and Giuliani. He's in third place, with 17 per cent likely voters in the Republican primary saying they support him, compared with 29 per cent for McCain and Giuliani.

This program aired on April 26, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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