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He's Ready! Rudy Giuliani Talks with Sean Hannity

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 5, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." Thank you for being with us. I'm Sean Hannity.

And we get right to our top story tonight. Earlier today, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani filed "statement of candidacy" papers with the Federal Elections Commission. Mayor Giuliani joins us now for a “Hannity & Colmes” exclusive interview!

Should I say congratulations or condolences?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: A little of both, but mostly congratulations. It's wonderful thing to be, you know, organizing and putting together. And it's a little -- very humbling to think that running for president of the United States is -- for a kid from Brooklyn, it's quite a step.

HANNITY: You are then officially running to be the next president of the United States?

GIULIANI: Well, we still have to formally announce it and do a few more things. But this is about as close as you're going to get. We did everything you have to do, I guess legally to do it -- then you still have to make a formal announcement and do things like that

HANNITY: Are you in it to win it?

GIULIANI: Gosh, yes. I mean, that's the only reason to do it. I mean, first thing you have to do is say to yourself, you know, what can I bring to it, what can I do that's, you know, different or -- and how can I make the country better? How can I improve it?

And I think that the experiences that I've had as mayor of New York City, United States attorney, all of them very, very, strongly, kind of in the executive area, where you have to have leadership, and organization, and focus, and having dealt with a city that was in really bad shape when I took over and that I had to kind of turn around, I think it gives you the background to approach it and to feel pretty comfortable that you can make a difference.

HANNITY: Democrats were predicting this back in November, November 14th, as a matter of fact. And they said, "It's unclear whether or not Rudy Giuliani will be able to just explain away the fact that he's consistently taken positions that are completely opposite to the conservative Republican base on issues they hold near and dear." Is that accurate?

GIULIANI: I don't think anyone has campaigned much more than I have for Republican candidates, going back to 1998. I mean, I've been in 45 states on behalf of 200 candidates -- all Republicans.

Sometimes differences on issues here and there, but the same basic philosophy of strong foreign policy, being on offense against terrorism, smaller government, lower taxes. And in my case, those are things that I did.

Those things I just mentioned to you are not just things I believe in. I mean, I lowered taxes in New York. I reduced the size of government in New York. I took a $2.4 billion deficit and turned it into a $3.2 billion surplus. And I reduced taxes over 23 times or 23 times.

HANNITY: That's pretty good.

GIULIANI: So, I mean, those are very conservative. And on the issues where, you know, sometimes -- of course there are disagreements. I mean, you never agree with any one candidate 100 percent. I don't agree with myself 100 percent. You don't even agree with me 100 percent.

HANNITY: Not 100 percent.

GIULIANI: And I agree with you almost 100 percent.

HANNITY: Almost -- that might get you in trouble. That's the first campaign gaffe.

GIULIANI: Not quite. Not quite.

HANNITY: Let's talk about some of these issues, controversial issues. You will be asked about them a lot in the campaign.

GIULIANI: Sure, I just was, in South Carolina.

HANNITY: Where does Rudy Giuliani stand on abortion? And do you think Roe v. Wade is a good law, a bad law?

GIULIANI: Where I stand on abortion is, I oppose it. I don't like it. I hate it. I think abortion is something that, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against.

However, I believe in a woman's right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that, and I think ultimately you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience and you have to respect the choice that somebody makes.

So what I do say to conservatives, because then, you know, you want to look at, well, OK, what can we look to that is similar to the way we think? I think the appointment of judges that I would make would be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, the last two judges that were appointed.

Chief Justice Roberts is somebody I work with, somebody I admire, Justice Alito someone I knew when he was U.S. attorney, also admire. If I had been president over the last four years, I can't think of any, you know, that I'd do anything different with that.

And I guess the key to it is -- and I appointed over 100 judges when I was the mayor -- so it's something I take very, very seriously -- I would appoint judges that interpreted the Constitution rather than invented it, understood the difference between being a judge and being a legislator. And having argued a case before the Supreme Court, having argued in many, many courts is something I would take very, very seriously.

HANNITY: So you would look for a Scalia, a Roberts, an Alito?

GIULIANI: Scalia is another former colleague of mine and somebody I consider to be a really great judge. I mean, that would be -- you're never going to get somebody exactly the same. You're never -- and I don't think you have a litmus test. But I do think you have sort of a general philosophical approach that you want from a justice, and I think a strict constructionist would be probably the way I'd describe it.

HANNITY: Is "Roe" a bad law?

GIULIANI: I think that's up to the court to decide. I think that it's been precedent for a very, very long time. There are questions about the way it was decided and some of the bases for it. At this point, it's precedent. It's going to be very interesting to see what Chief Justice Roberts and what Justices Scalia and Alito do with it.

I think probably they're going to limit it rather than overturn it. In other words, they'll accept some of the limitations that different states have placed on it or the federal government has placed on it.

HANNITY: Partial birth?

GIULIANI: Partial-birth abortion, I think that's going to be upheld. I think that ban is going to be upheld. I think it should be. And I think, as long as there's provision for the life of the mother, then that's something that should be done.

HANNITY: There's a misconception that you supported partial-birth abortion.

GIULIANI: Yes, well, if it doesn't have a provision for the life of the mother, then I wouldn't support the legislation. If it has provision for the life of the mother, then I would support it.

HANNITY: Parental notification?

GIULIANI: Parental notification, I think you have to have a judicial bypass. If you do, you can have parental notification. And I think the court -- I mean, that's the kind of thing I think the court will do with abortion.

The other thing I should emphasize is, while I was the mayor -- there's a column that was just written about it -- abortions in New York went down and adoptions went way up, because we worked on adoptions as an alternative, so that there'd be a real choice.

So that ultimately you respect a woman's choice, but it should be a real choice, adoption or, if they make that choice, I don't think the criminal law can interfere with it.

HANNITY: I think conservatives would be happy with choices of Roberts, Scalia and Alito, but there might be some slight disagreement -- there will be a disagreement on abortion. Does that concern you in...

GIULIANI: No, because there will be disagreement on other things. I mean, there are always disagreements. And then some people just won't be able to vote for you. You've got to live with that.

I mean, the reality is you've got to be yourself. You've got to be who you are. You've got to be honest with people. If your views change on something, you've got to be willing to express it.

When I was mayor of New York, my views changed. I began as mayor of New York City thinking that I could reform the New York City school system. After two or three years, four years, I became an advocate of choice, of scholarships, and vouchers, and parental choice, because I thought that was the only way to really change the school system.

When I started as mayor, I didn't believe that. When I went through three or four years of experience, that's what it taught me. And I think you have to be willing -- you have strong ideas, you have strong views, but then you have to be willing also to look at experience.

HANNITY: Let me move on. And the issue of guns has come up a lot. When people talk about Mayor Giuliani, New York City had some of the toughest gun laws in the entire country. Do you support the right of people to carry handguns?

GIULIANI: I understand the Second Amendment. I support it. People have the right to bear arms. When I was mayor of New York, I took over at a very, very difficult time. We were averaging about 2,000 murders a year, 10,000...

HANNITY: You inherited those laws, the gun laws in New York?

GIULIANI: Yes, and I used them. I used them to help bring down homicide. We reduced homicide, I think, by 65-70 percent. And some of it was by taking guns out of the streets of New York City.

So if you're talking about a city like New York, a densely populated area like New York, I think it's appropriate. You might have different laws other places, and maybe a lot of this gets resolved based on different states, different communities making decisions. After all, we do have a federal system of government in which you have the ability to accomplish that.

HANNITY: So you would support the state's rights to choose on specific gun laws?

GIULIANI: Yes, I mean, a place like New York that is densely populated, or maybe a place that is experiencing a serious crime problem, like a few cities are now, kind of coming back, thank goodness not New York, but some other cities, maybe you have one solution there and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules.

HANNITY: But generally speaking, do you think it's acceptable if citizens have the right to carry a handgun?

GIULIANI: It's not only -- I mean, it's part of the Constitution. People have the right to bear arms. Then the restrictions of it have to be reasonable and sensible. You can't just remove that right. You've got to regulate, consistent with the Second Amendment.

HANNITY: How do you feel about the Brady bill and assault ban?

GIULIANI: I was in favor of that as part of the crime bill. I was in favor of it because I thought that it was necessary both to get the crime bill passed and also necessary with the 2,000 murders or so that we were looking at, 1,800, 1,900, to 2,000 murders, that I could use that in a tactical way to reduce crime. And I did.

HANNITY: Yes. Let me ask you about gay marriage. What do you think about the definition of marriage? Should it be between a man and a woman?

GIULIANI: Marriage should be between a man and a woman. Here's exactly the position I've always had. And it's the same -- and I feel the same way about it today that I did eight, 10 years ago when I signed the domestic partnership legislation: Marriage should be between a man and a woman. It should remain that way.

We should be tolerant, fair, open, and we should understand the rights that all people have in our society. And I thought the best answer was domestic partnership as a way of dealing with that, so that you're recognizing the rights of people who are gay and lesbian and protect them. But marriage should remain between a man and a woman.

HANNITY: How do you feel about the borders? It's one of our most important security issues. There's talk about building a fence all across the border with Mexico. Do you support that? Do you support amnesty? Do you support guest workers?

GIULIANI: I support security at the borders. I think security is enormously important in the post-September 11th period. I think we have to know who's coming into this country. We have to be able to identify them; we have to be able to figure out who they are.

I do think that, with the fence -- the fence honestly has to be a technological fence. The head of my party, the new head, Mel Martinez, who is a senator from Florida, a great guy, he was being interviewed about four or five months ago, and they asked him about a fence. Do you support a fence? Do you think a fence should be put up?

He said, sure, you could put up a fence, if you want, except the only people that will put it up will be the illegal immigrants. Nobody else will be building that fence.

And I thought what the point that Mel was making was, we need a technological fence. We need to be able to photograph people, observe them, see them, know who's there, record them.

And then I think there has to be regularization for the people that are here. There's got to be a program to regularize the people that are here, as you establish security at the border.

And I would add to many of the proposals, because there are a number of them in the House, the Senate, and that the president has put forward. I would add to that, at the end of the road, if somebody's going to earn citizenship, with whatever other hurdles are put in the way, at the end of the road they should be able to speak English, they should be able to read English, they should have some knowledge of American history, particularly if you're going to regularize somebody who is in an undocumented status.

HANNITY: Does that mean amnesty, though? I mean, does that...

GIULIANI: It doesn't mean amnesty. It means earning it. It means -- here's the experience -- I said I learned a lot from being mayor of New York City. As mayor of New York City, we had a tremendous amount of crime. We did a survey. We figured out there were about 400,000 illegal or undocumented immigrants in New York City.

The immigration service deported 1,500 a year. That was the most they could ever deport, 2,000 a year. So I figured out I had 398,000. Now, the question was: How do you handle that? What do you do with it?

And then, when we would catch drug dealers and criminals, when we'd turn them over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and I'd say, you know, put them at the head of the line. Let's get rid of these drug dealers and criminals first. And they were dealing with, you know, somebody's maid and somebody who maybe was teaching at a college and just didn't have the right papers, or somebody who was working in a restaurant and -- well, that's all an issue. But the drug dealers, and the criminals, and now the terrorists are an issue.

And if you have a law that isn't working, and you have thousands and thousands and millions of people, then the terrorists hide among them. And we have to have a law that makes sense.

And that's why I think you've got to come up here with a solution that says: much more security at the border; register people, document them; have English at the end of the line; but then have a system to regularize people, as well.

HANNITY: You got a lot of conservatives coming on board your campaign. The latest one is columnist George Will. Let me put up on the screen what he said about you. He said, "Let me make the case of Giuliani. People are going to ask what I call the seven-minute question. Nightmare scenario, you're the security adviser. You're awakened in the middle of the night. You have three minutes to get the details of an attack coming on the U.S. And then the president, who you notify, has four minutes to answer. That's seven minutes. Which candidate fits the seven-minute question?"

Is that you? Are you ready for that?

GIULIANI: Yes, I'm as ready as anybody could be, and I guess maybe more ready than some, because, I mean, I've lived through crises. I lived through crises.

September 11 is obviously the biggest one that I've lived through. But being mayor of New York was a crisis a week and an emergency every other day. And you get used to it. I mean, you get used to being able to keep focused, to take advice, understand that you can't get too excited in any one situation. You've got to remain very focused, and you have to remain optimistic about the result, and you've got to communicate with people, and you have to be transparent.

HANNITY: Let me ask about Iraq. You've generally been very supportive of the president and the Iraq war. Is there anything you would have done differently? Do you think there's been any mistakes made?

GIULIANI: Well, sure, the president has explained the mistakes that were made. I mean...

HANNITY: If you were in this situation, if you were the president?

GIULIANI: I think he could go back and, as we develop positions and we explain things, I think it's quite appropriate to go back and explain, "Well, I might have done it this way, or I might have done it with more troops, or I might have done it some other way."

But here's the reality of it: We're at war. And we're at war because they're at war with us. I mean, sometimes, when you listen to these debates in Congress, and you listen to the politicians debating, you sort of get the impression that they think we're in control of whether we're at war or not.

It doesn't matter what we think. They're at war with us. They want to come here and kill us. And they did on September 11, and they did a long time before September 11. Way back in 1993, they came to this city and killed people.

So we've got to put Iraq in the context of a much broader picture than just Iraq. And getting Iraq correctly, in other words, getting stability there is real important. And I support what the president asked for support to do and what General Petraeus has asked for support to do, not because there's any guarantee it's going to work. There's never any guarantee at war.

But if we can come out with a correct solution or a better solution in Iraq, it's going to make the whole War on Terror go better. We got to get beyond it. We've got to get beyond Iraq.

HANNITY: In essence, have people forgotten?

GIULIANI: It's natural. I mean, you have a terrible attack like September 11, 2001. Right in the aftermath of it, there's tremendous unity. We understand that we have to be on offense against terrorists, that we have to make it bipartisan, that it isn't about being a Democrat or a Republican. It's about being an American.

Now you get further away, and that lesson isn't as vivid. And all wars have that happen. This is a difficult thing to do, but we've got to start getting beyond Iraq.

We've got to be thinking about Iran. We have to think about Syria. We have to be thinking about Pakistan and Afghanistan and making sure that the transition in Afghanistan goes correctly. We have to be ready for the fact that, whatever happens in Iraq, success or failure -- success will help us in the War on Terror. Failure will hurt us. But the war is still going to go on. They're still going to want to come here and kill us.

HANNITY: If you're president, and the Baker Commission recommends sitting down with Ahmadinejad and then Syria, would you take that recommendation? Would you sit down with them like that?

GIULIANI: I thought one of the mistakes of that recommendation is you almost can't put it up front. The minute you put it up front, you give them all the leverage and you take all the leverage away from us. That recommendation would have been better delivered quietly, secretly.

And then you -- then, through back channels, you find out. Can I achieve something with Ahmadinejad? Can I achieve something with Syria? Right now, it doesn't look that way.

The better thing to do in Iran is to put pressure on them and to let them know that we will not accept their being a nuclear power. The nightmare of the Cold War was nuclear weapons in the hands of an irrational person. I don't want to live through that nightmare.

HANNITY: We're almost out of time. Who's the bigger Yankee fan, you or Hillary?

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: Well, we could do a debate on Yankee trivia and find out.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: Really quickly, your thoughts on Hillary, Barack Obama, John Edwards?

GIULIANI: I think they're all, you know, worthy people, and they're all people that are going to fight it out for the Democratic nomination. And I haven't the foggiest idea which one's going to win. Right now, it looks like Hillary.

HANNITY: You don't think Hillary?

GIULIANI: All you can do is look at polls. Right now, she's ahead. But it's a long way away. And none of these races are over yet.

HANNITY: Senator McCain, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich?

GIULIANI: Very good men, all very, very good men, very worthy men, very good men. Some are very good friends, others -- I respect all of them. I think I've campaigned with each one of them. I campaigned for Mitt when he became governor of Massachusetts. I've campaigned many, many times together with Senator McCain. He's campaigned for me; I've campaigned for him, good friend.

HANNITY: If you get the nomination, do you have any doubt you would beat Hillary Clinton?

GIULIANI: Well, I'm in this to win. I mean, I have no idea who is going to get the nomination, but you do this because you believe that you can win the nomination of your party, and then you believe that you're the strongest candidate to win the election for your party.

HANNITY: Name three people who you would think of for vice president.

GIULIANI: Oh, I can't name vice presidents right now. I just told you three really worthy people.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: They would be three you'd consider?

GIULIANI: They're really three great men, but, no, you cannot be thinking about vice president at this point. It's enough to think about how to put this together, how to get it organized, how to get it announced, how to put together your fundraising, what the major issues are, and how to best articulate them to the American people, to show leadership and strength.

And my campaign is going to be about the future. I mean, the past is what we have to learn about how to direct America to the future. And the whole purpose of doing this is because you can make this country better. You believe you can.

HANNITY: As mayor -- and we've got to run here -- but as mayor of New York, I can't wait. If you were president, it would be interesting. I don't think anyone's seen a press conference until they've seen a Mayor Giuliani press conference.

GIULIANI: You know, I told Tony Blair once it reminds me of the same thing that he would go through every week, when they did the question-and-answer period in the parliament. It's very, very similar.

HANNITY: Very combative, too

GIULIANI: I mean, combative, but it keeps you on your toes. It means every single day you have to know what the heck is going on. And if you don't, there are at least two or three members of the press who can make you look like a fool.

HANNITY: Mr. Mayor, congratulations. Best of luck to you.

GIULIANI: Thank you.

HANNITY: Thank you for being with us.

GIULIANI: Thank you very much.

HANNITY: Appreciate it. Thank you.

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