CNN’s Roberts Directs Tougher Questions to Rudy Versus Hillary

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN’s John Roberts, in the course of two interviews of presidential candidates in the month of January, directed substantive questions to both candidates, but was tougher on the Republican candidate. On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Roberts questioned Rudy Giuliani on the decision during his tenure as mayor of New York City to locate the Big Apple’s primary emergency command center in the 7 World Trade Center, which was destroyed on 9/11, an issue that has turned up regularly in the course of Giuliani’s campaign. This contrasted with Roberts’ January 8 interview of Hillary Clinton, in which he didn’t press the former first lady on any controversial decisions from her past.

Roberts quoted from the New York Times as he asked Giuliani about the 7 World Trade Center issue.

ROBERTS: Mr. Mayor, you also like to talk about your national security credentials in the wake of September 11th. 'The New York Times' the other day carried a formerly confidential 1998 police department memo talking about the relocation of the New York City emergency command center to 7 World Trade Center. That memo said '7 World Trade Center is a poor choice for the site of a crucial command center for the top leadership of the city of New York.' This was an NYPD memorandum. It was compiled by the intelligence services there. You may have said before that your director of Emergency Management Services was the person who made this decision. But does the buck not stop with you on this point?

Giuliani confirmed that he was ultimately responsible for the move. "Of course, absolutely. I made that choice, and there were pros and cons for all of the sites. Each site had a series of pros, a series of cons. And the reality is, 7 World Trade Center was also the home of the CIA, the Secret Service. It was a logical place to put it for the transfer of information if there were certain kinds of emergencies."

During the interview of Clinton, Roberts asked about Clinton apparently going "back to that aggressive style of compare and contrast" with her campaign, her plan for bringing a "peaceful end" to the Iraq war, Social Security reform, and what would be the "underpinning" of her decisions if she were elected president. "Let me ask you a question that President Bush posited hypothetically at his last press conference. He said that he would ask the candidates, what are the principles that you will stand on in good times and bad times? What will be the underpinning of your decisions?" This is where (as was pointed out in the NewsBusters post about the interview) Clinton answered, "The United States Constitution first and foremost."

Earlier in his interview with Giuliani, Roberts asked the former New York City mayor about the Florida primary, and pressed him twice about the necessity to win in the state. "You said in your campaign plane the other day to a small group of reporters, you said 'the winner of Florida will win the nomination.' Is today for all of the marbles for you?"

After Giuliani tried to brush the question aside, he repeated the marbles analogy. "Sure, I mean, you reiterated it, though, but the question is, is this one for all of the marbles for you? If you don't win here, that's it?" Giuliani replied that he "would never put it that way."

Roberts did actually ask Giuliani one question from the conservative perspective. "This National Catastrophe Fund obviously also important to people in Florida, who have lost their insurance after successive hurricanes and tornadoes have hit this area. But there are people asking questions across the -- why should taxpayers across the country fund people who choose to live in harm's way, and isn't this just growing government?"

The full transcript of Roberts’ interview of Giuliani from Tuesday’s "American Morning:"

JOHN ROBERTS: Today could be judgment day for some of the candidates. Our next guest is counting on a victory in Florida to propel his campaign into Super Tuesday. Can he do it? Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani joins us now from Sunny Isles Beach in Florida. Mr. Mayor, good to see you. Glad to finally have you on 'American Morning.' It's been a long long time.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, John. How are you?

ROBERTS: I'm very good. Thanks.

GIULIANI: Well, nice to be with you.

ROBERTS: It's very good to have you here, sir. You said in your campaign plane the other day to a small group of reporters, you said 'the winner of Florida will win the nomination.' Is today for all of the marbles for you?

GIULIANI: Well, I've been saying that for quite some time. That wasn't the first time I said it. We focused on this as the kind of gateway to the February 5th primary, and we see this as a very important primary, and we expect to win it. So, that wasn't the first time I had really said that. I looked at it that way for months.

ROBERTS: Sure, I mean, you reiterated it, though, but the question is, is this one for all of the marbles for you? If you don't win here, that's it?

GIULIANI: I would never put it that way, but I would say it's real important. And we want the people of Florida to know how important it is. We had early voting here. We think we did very well in the early voting. But our real objective now is to get out the vote today. We think the vote is there. I believe I've had the campaign that's the most relevant to Florida. I'm the only one in favor of the National Catastrophe Fund, which people in Florida need to really help them afford insurance. I'm the one who has put out the biggest tax package, the biggest tax reduction. I'm the one who's had experience lowering taxes. My opponents haven't. So, there are a lot of messages that I think resound really well here in Florida. But we've got to get out the vote out today.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you about that National Catastrophe Fund. This is something that is very big for Florida Governor Charlie Crist. You support it. John McCain does not support it. However, Charlie Crist on Saturday threw his lot in with John McCain. How did that hurt you both politically and personally?

GIULIANI: Well, look, I surprised by it, but the reality is we have a lot of statewide support here. The attorney general of the state, Bill McCallum, is my campaign chairman. Bill is a very well known political figure in Florida. He's really put our whole campaign together. We've gotten a lot of endorsements from mayors up and down the state. So, everybody has their share of endorsements, and you know, mostly it goes on, your message. I mean, people in Florida are focused on the economy. They are focused on who can help the most in reviving the economy here in Florida, who can help the most with real estate. And I have the experience in having turned around an economy and I'm the only one who had that experience.

ROBERTS: This National Catastrophe Fund obviously also important to people in Florida, who have lost their insurance after successive hurricanes and tornadoes have hit this area. But there are people asking questions across the -- why should taxpayers across the country fund people who choose to live in harm's way, and isn't this just growing government?

GIULIANI: Well, the reality is it helps the entire country. It can be hurricanes in Florida. It can be hurricanes along the East Coast. It can be earthquakes on the West Coast. It can be tornadoes in the middle of the country, ice storms in the north of the country. The idea of a catastrophe fund is for a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe. There will be a federal backstop so that people can get insurance. And it actually means less money would be spent in a catastrophe. Remember, when there is a major catastrophe, federal money comes in in large numbers. I think its $120, $130 billion has been sent in because of Katrina. So, people all over the country are spending on these catastrophes anyway when they happen. This would end up having a backstop beforehand and actually would bring in more insurance money. It would bring in more private money, more allocation of risk, but it would just make insurance available, which it is not.

ROBERTS: Mr. Mayor --

GIULIANI: ...for some people.

ROBERTS: One of your favorite topics that you talk about when you are in the campaign trail here is over-regulation. When we look at these new numbers about foreclosure filings, Florida is number two in the nation with 165,000, a lot of that because of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Does that not speak to the need for more regulation, particularly when it comes to this idea of these fly-by-night loans?

GIULIANI: Well, you know, what I'm for it is balanced regulation. Not more or less regulation, but sensible regulation. And as far as mortgages or -- mortgage applications are concerned, there should be transparency and there should be an explanation to the borrower of what's actually going on. That's good regulation. That's regulation that moves you in the right direction. When I talk about over-regulation, I'm talking about some of the excesses of Sarbanes-Oxley that are losing us business, losing us IPOs and business to the United Kingdom or to Japan.

ROBERTS: Right. So, just to be straight, would you favor more regulation in the lending industry?

GIULIANI: I would favor sensible regulation, meaning things that make mortgages and mortgage applications more understandable to people. I would have to see them. I have to see what they were proposing. But what if what was being proposed was something that would make the terms of a mortgage clearer to someone so they understood what they were getting into, that would be a good thing.

ROBERTS: All right. Mr. Mayor, you also like to talk about your national security credentials in the wake of September 11th. 'The New York Times' the other day carried a formerly confidential 1998 police department memo talking about the relocation of the New York City emergency command center to 7 World Trade Center. That memo said '7 World Trade Center is a poor choice for the site of a crucial command center for the top leadership of the city of New York.' This was an NYPD memorandum. It was compiled by the intelligence services there. You may have said before that your director of Emergency Management Services was the person who made this decision. But does the buck not stop with you on this point?

GIULIANI: Of course, absolutely. I made that choice, and there were pros and cons for all of the sites. Each site had a series of pros, a series of cons. And the reality is, 7 World Trade Center was also the home of the CIA, the Secret Service. It was a logical place to put it for the transfer of information if there were certain kinds of emergencies. And we had two backup emergency centers as well. And finally, our emergency center was able to be moved anywhere quickly. It had been made that way, in preparation really for the millennium and for Y2K. So, we had at least two other possibilities, plus the ability to establish our emergency center anywhere within a half hour to an hour, which is what we did on that day.

ROBERTS: Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for joining us this morning. It's good to talk to you. Good luck today. We'll be watching.

GIULIANI: Thank you. We'll be back.

ROBERTS: All right. Take care.

GIULIANI: We'll be back on your show.

ROBERTS: I hope so. I'll hold you to that.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center