Giuliani touts his foreign policy experience
Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday that his days as mayor of New York's melting pot and his globetrotting days as a security consultant give him more foreign policy experience than anyone else running for president.
"I've probably been in foreign lands more than any other candidate for President in the last five to six years," he said during a morning stop in New Hampshire. "I have as much current information and involvement as any of the people that are running."
Giuliani's relative lack of a foreign policy background has often been cited as one of his most glaring weaknesses as a presidential candidate, especially when compared with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain, both U.S. senators with broad foreign policy portfolios.
McCain, in fact, is just back from Iraq, a place that Giuliani has yet to visit.
But Giuliani argued that his eight years as mayor as well as what he said were more than 90 foreign trips during his time as a private business consultant had taught him the ways of the world. He even recalled the time he had Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat tossed from a United Nations gala as among his successes.
"I was criticized by the White House for having my own foreign policy when I kicked Arafat out of the UN 50 conference," he said.
The comments came as Giuliani stumped through New Hampshire and then Iowa in an effort to reach out to voters in two of the most critical, early battleground states. He will hit Florida and South Carolina Wednesday and Thursday.
Many have wondered if the socially liberal Giuliani would even bother to compete in Iowa, whose first-in-the-nation caucus is dominated by social conservatives on the Republican side.
But Giuliani said he would "participate" in Iowa, although to what degree he left unstated.
He didn't shy away from social issues, telling reporters yesterday that while he thought abortion was "wrong," it was "ultimately . . . an individual choice."
In a comment sure to light up conservative blogs, he also said he considered domestic partnership laws that protect the rights of gays "the American thing to do."
He spoke after touring Wellington Heights, an up-and-coming neighborhood of Cedar Rapids that residents said had benefited from the kind of "broken windows" focus on low-level crime that Giuliani used to combat crime in New York.
"I think it was kind of nice that he took the time to come to a neighborhood that he knew has had some troubles," said Terry Bilsland, 65, president of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association. "He knows what we are trying to do here."
(Kennedy reported from Concord, N.H.. Saltonstall reported from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.)