Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani is in Iowa today (Monday) to earn a bit of money for himself and help two Iowa Republicans raise cash for their campaigns. Guiliani has said he wants to continue in some form of public service and that might include running for president.
Guiliani says today’s appearance at fundraisers for G-O-P congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti and gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle are part of his decision-making process. “This is a good opportunity for me to help them. I’m going to do that all over the country and at the same time meet people and sort of file information away to think about this after the 2006 election is over,” Guiliani says. “I can’t give you a timeline or a continuum that I’m on. It’s something that I’m thinking about. It’s something I haven’t ruled out and it’s something that really depends on where things are approximately a year from now.”
While conservatives generally salute Guiliani for his work as a prosecutor and for how he reacted as Mayor of New York when terrorists struck nearly five years ago, they are troubled by Guiliani’s support of gay rights and legalized abortion. Guiliani says the only way to find out if conservatives in the G-O-P could support him as a presidential candidate is to run.
“No one ever knows who or what the electorate wants until you offer yourself as a candidate. You can do polling. You can do focus groups and…meetings with people…and sort of get a sense of that, but you only find out about any candidate until they actually run,” Guiliani says. “We’ve had lots of surprises either way. We’ve had people elected where you never thought they’d get elected. We’ve had frontrunners who have fallen way behind. But the only way you find that out is if you run.”
One of the issues that divides the Republican Party today is immigration. Guiliani says it must be dealt with “practically.” “If you were to deal with it through either extreme, I think you’d make a terrible mistake,” Guiliani says. He says opening the borders to all comers would make the U.S. a more dangerous country but Guiliani also contends that passing a law making it a felony to be in the country illegally would make the U.S. more insecure. “That would be very dangerous,” Guiliani says. “You’d take 11 million people, 12 million people. You’d drive them further underground. You’d push them more toward criminal activities.”
Guiliani estimates there were about 400,000 illegal immigrants in New York City when he became mayor, while the federal government only deported between 1500 and 2000 illegals every year. “The real answer here is much more security at the borders, much better and more advanced technology which now exists…to identify people, know who they are, look at their backgrounds,” Guiliani says. “And then a way of people earning citizenship over some period of time.”
Guiliani says he wouldn’t rule out anything as part of a compromise, but discards the idea of building a fence along the U.S./Mexico border as the only solution.
Guiliani was paid to be one of the headliners at a motivational seminar in Des Moines, and the mayor says he understands the difference between popularity with that ticket-buying crowd and popularity that will convert itself into votes. “It’s always nicer when people cheer for you than when they boo you, but that doesn’t mean they go and vote for you,” Guiliani says.
Guiliani was the keynote speaker at a noon-hour event that grossed about $40,000 for GOP third district congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny. Later today Guiliani will help Republican Jim Nussle raise money for his campaign for governor. About 400 are expected to attend and give a total of about $25,000 to the Nussle campaign.