Giuliani to Romney: Man upBy JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter
June 04. 2011 11:11PM
MANCHESTER - Rudolph Giuliani says Mitt Romney should just fess up and admit that he made 'a terrible mistake' by signing the so-called 'Romneycare' health insurance bill into law in Massachusetts five years ago.
In an interview on Friday, Giuliani heaped equal helpings of praise on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and criticism on potential GOP presidential adversary Romney.
The former New York City mayor said the former Massachusetts governor, who announced his candidacy for President on Thursday, has done a poor job of answering criticisms of the health care plan he signed into law in 2006.
He said 'Romneycare' was a model for 'Obamacare,' and Romney 'can't talk his way out of this. A mandate is a mandate is a mandate is a mandate is mandate. Let's get real.'
Giuliani said Wisconsin Congressman Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of a plan to slash $6 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, 'has the most comprehensive program put out by anyone so far, but he's not running' for President.
'The candidates have been considerably more ambiguous than (Ryan) has been about what should be done' to address the budget deficit, Medicare and Medicaid, Giuliani said. 'They're going to have to start doing that, and then we'll start to get a sense of which one seems to have the best ability to have an appeal to the people.'
While Giuliani has been making frequent visits to New Hampshire and speaking to small groups, he said he does not plan to make a decision on whether to make a second bid for President until late summer. He finished fourth in the 2008 New Hampshire primary; Romney finished second behind John McCain.
Giuliani said he will first determine whether he has the ability to put together grassroots organizations in New Hampshire and elsewhere and 'decide whether you have a good chance of winning the nomination and whether you have the best chance of beating Barack Obama, which is the biggest question.'
Giuliani declined an invitation to the June 13 presidential debate co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR and CNN, saying, 'I won't debate until and unless I become a candidate.'
Romney has defended the Massachusetts health care reform law, which mandates that nearly every resident of the state obtain a minimum level of health care insurance coverage or face a fine.
'Our plan was a state solution to a state problem,' Romney said in a speech May 12 in Michigan. 'What we did wasn't perfect. But overall, am I proud of the fact that we did our best for our people and we got people insured? Absolutely.'
Romney also said in the speech that many 'are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was a bone-headed idea and I should just admit it.
'There's only one problem with that,' Romney said. 'It wouldn't be honest. I, in fact, did what I believe was right for the people of my state.'
Giuliani said Romney 'is telling us something that just isn't correct: that 'Romneycare' and 'Obamacare' are significantly different.''
'They're exactly the same,' said Giuliani. 'The mere fact that one is in a state and the other is in the federal government doesn't make it any better.
'The problem is they both mandate health care,' which Giuliani said he believes is unconstitutional. 'If you create a state or a federal government that can give orders like that, you're taking away people's freedom, and I think Governor Romney should be more sensitive to that, to having taken away people's freedom.'
Giuliani said 'Romneycare' was clearly a model for 'Obamacare,' and 'the best way for Mitt Romney to deal with it is to admit it's true and to say that it's a terrible mistake.'
Giuliani said Romney's 'failure to disavow' the Massachusetts plan 'hurts us in being able to overthrow 'Obamacare.' In a general election, that would be a very big issue.'
Giuliani said it's acceptable to admit mistakes and just say, 'I'd never do that stupid thing again. There's a bunch of stuff like that I'd say about me.'
He pointed out that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is also an announced presidential candidate, has admitted his previous support for a cap-and-trade plan was a mistake.
And about himself, he said, 'I'd never run the campaign like the one I ran three years ago. That was a big mistake.'
Giuliani said he spent a lot of time in New Hampshire in the 2008 campaign, but did not do enough person-to-person, so-called retail, campaigning.
Giuliani supported Ryan's plan to change Medicaid into a block grant system run by states and Medicare essentially into a voucher system. 'He's gotten out in front, and he's done a good job, and I'm annoyed that some of the Republican candidates have either criticized him or not supported him enough,' said Giuliani.
'Except for Paul Ryan, what I hear are a lot of criticisms of Barack Obama, and I agree with that, and a few ideas, but not the kind of comprehensive ideas that will capture the imagination of the American people,' he said.
'If we do nothing about Medicare and Medicaid, we will ruin it,' he said. 'If we leave it alone and let Obama have his way, it will go bankrupt.'
Giuliani proposed a $15,000 tax credit for individuals who purchase their own health insurance and the establishment of personal health savings accounts of $3,000 to $4,000 a year.
'You can take the money you save in buying a health insurance program and put it into a health savings account,' he said.
Giuliani also called for tort reform and said consumers should be allowed to purchase insurance across state lines, further spurring competition.
'You cannot solve the budget problems of this country without solving the problem of health insurance,' he said. 'It's the biggest single cost factor for cities and states.'
Giuliani said the House 'should take the President to the mat' on the debt ceiling vote.
He said the debt ceiling must be raised, but 'you've got to get as much savings as you can.''
'It would hurt Republicans if we ultimately refused to raise the debt ceiling after having extracted as much as we could,' he said.
On foreign policy, he said he cannot understand why the Obama administration has 'become aggressive about overturning dictators who are partially our friends, even though they're bad people.'
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, said Giuliani, 'is both terrible to his own people, a horrible brutal killer of children, and an enemy to the United States. Get rid of him.
'We have to stand with the people who want to get him out of office,' he said, and do the same to help overthrow Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
'The (Obama) administration has been timid about being for regime change in Syria, and it hasn't been for regime change in Iran,' he said. 'Why we were for regime change in Egypt and not in Iran, only the Obama administration can explain.'