Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani faced liberal lines of questioning from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger during the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room before the network’s Thursday night coverage of the Republican convention. In particular, Borger pressed Giuliani on his differences with Sarah Palin on social issues: "Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.... [L]et's just say she's a heroine to the right wing of this party, and you're not their hero, okay?... [M]y question is, has the big tent of the Republican Party, which you always talk about -- has that gotten a little narrower?"
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Host Wolf Blitzer first asked the former mayor, "Why should the American people trust the Republicans, who have been in charge of the executive branch of the government for the last eight years -- the White House, and all of the agencies, and in charge of the legislative branch of the government for the last 12 of the past 14 years?" Giuliani narrowed the stakes of the election between John McCain and Barack Obama, and not between their two parties. Blitzer followed up with questions about the Democrats’ lead on a generic ballot and how, according to Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, "if you take a look at the votes over the last eight years, John McCain has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time."
When Giuliani brought up McCain’s record of bipartisanship, Blitzer insisted that Obama also had a track record of working with the other party: "He's worked with Senator McCain on comprehensive immigration reform.... He worked with Senator Lugar on nuclear proliferation, and he worked with Senator Coburn on ethics reform."
Borger then pressed Giuliani on his difference with Palin on social issues, focusing on her pro-life stance. Blitzer then followed-up Borger’s questioning by asking about the issue of "gay rights" and referred to Giuliani’s support of "abortion rights:"
GLORIA BORGER: Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.
RUDY GIULIANI: (Unintelligible)
BORGER: Well, she's pro-life.
GIULIANI: Well, those are two issues out of 100.
BORGER: Okay, but --
GIULIANI: On 95 others, we have a lot in common.
BORGER: But let's just say she's a heroine to the right wing of this party, and you're not their hero, okay? Can we say that?
GIULIANI: That's fine.
BORGER: The question is --
GIULIANI: But we agree on 95 percent of the issues.
BORGER: Okay. But my question is, has the big tent of the Republican Party, which you always talk about -- has that gotten a little narrower?
GIULIANI: I think it got a lot bigger when Joe Lieberman addressed the convention yesterday. I didn't see a prominent Republican addressing the Democratic Convention.
BORGER: But what about with Sarah Palin and the choice of Sarah Palin and those differences on the cultural, social issues?
GIULIANI: Sarah -- Sarah Palin gave a speech last night that appeals to a broad base in the Republican Party. We have differences of opinion on some of the social issues. But we're big enough to overcome those.
BLITZER: But on those social issues --
GIULIANI: We're a party that has room for lots -- you're going to see Tom Ridge tonight. Tom Ridge has the same views on these social issues as I do. You saw Lieberman the other night. He has the same views on the social issues that I have. So we're a -- we're a big party, at least those of us who support John McCain.
BLITZER: But you support -- you support gay rights. She doesn't. You support -- you support -- you support abortion rights.
GIULIANI: Not gay marriage.
BLITZER: But you support that gay partners should be able to visit each other in the hospital.
GIULIANI: Of course.
BLITZER: But she doesn't go that far.
GIULIANI: Well, okay. We disagree on some things.
Towards the end of the interview, which began 4 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent John King asked the former mayor about the "generational contrast between these two guys:" "At a time when the country so much wants change, you have a 47- year-old guy, who is vibrant and full of energy, running against a man who is full of energy, but would be the oldest man ever elected to the office. Do you think that hurts John McCain?"
Giuliani answered that "the Republican ticket has it in the right order. We have the much more experienced candidate first. We have the younger, new generation candidate second. They have a candidate with no experience first, and they have the older-generation candidate second. I think we have it in the right order for the person who's going to walk in there and be Commander-in-Chief on day one."
Borger, as Carl Bernstein did the night before on CNN, responded to Giuliani’s answer by bringing up the issue of Palin’s capability to take charge if she and McCain were elected and McCain were suddenly incapacitated: "Well, is she ready to step in as Commander-in-Chief, though, if, God forbid, something should happen to John McCain?" Giuliani replied, "...I think she has more than exceeded expectations. I thought that she handled herself very well the first time. I thought she handled herself very well last night. She's been put under unrelenting attack from the moment she has been nominated, and she -- seems to me this is a very tough woman."