MSNBC Interview - Transcript


By:  Pete King
Date: Jan. 31, 2008
Location: Unknown

MR. GREGORY: The Rudy Giuliani campaign is now over. He's out of the race. The former New York City mayor bowing out and throwing his support to John McCain. Joining us now is New York congressman, Peter King, a strong supporter of the Giuliani candidacy.

Congressman, good to see you.

REP. KING: (Inaudible) -- David. How are you doing?


Let's talk about deliverables here. What does Rudy Giuliani do now for John McCain? How and where does he help?

REP. KING: Well, he certainly helps in the Northeast, in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. I think he'll be a big help in California and quite frankly across the country. I know I heard in the previous section, you were saying that, you know, just moderate voters. Actually Rudy also appeals to the national security conservatives and to a lot of the Catholic ethnics who, I don't know if you'd put them into a, you know, blue state, red state, moderate, conservative label or not, but they really, you know, Rudy has strong support among them. And so I think it's definitely a big plus for John McCain and Rudy, I do know, expects to go all out for, you know, for Senator McCain.

MR. GREGORY: You talk about strong support. Where did we see that evidenced in the polls? Where did we see it evidenced in the early contests?

REP. KING: That was mainly a question of strategy. Because, for instance, even in New Hampshire where he, I think, finished pretty -- fourth, barely beat out Ron Paul. Yet the polls, the exit polls had a 62 percent favorable rating toward Rudy. So it wasn't so much they had turned on him as they felt, you know, they disagreed with the campaign strategy of not going into Iowa or New Hampshire or Michigan. So I have no doubt at all, even polls I've seen recently, that he still has solid support that will be of very, again, of great help to McCain.

MR. GREGORY: I wonder what your take is, as a supporter of his and as a New Yorker, whether he simply wasn't conservative enough to play big in the Republican Party, or whether it was Giuliani himself, the stories about Bernard Kerik, the stories about the security detail for his then-girlfriend, Judith Nathan. Did those have an impact? In other words, all those things that New Yorkers knew, people on the East Coast knew, that started to become more widely known, did those things have an impact?

REP. KING: I don't think the Bernie Kerik story had the impact that people say it did because, I think, for the two weeks after that story broke, Rudy's poll numbers stayed the same.

I think the one that had the worst impact was the one about the security detail, much of which turned out not to be true. Because somehow the implication was that he was paying the security through various city agencies to cover up the payments, when actually it was done to expedite payment. And if you want to cover something up, you keep it in the police department; you don't put it out through various agencies.

But that just came at the wrong time. That came as he was trying to really maximize the vote in New Hampshire. He had just gone with a media buy in New Hampshire as his numbers started to get down in New Hampshire as a result of that story, because it wasn't until about three weeks later that The New York Times corrected it.

So yeah, two or three weeks of bad stories. He then pulled out of, not pulled out of New Hampshire but cut back on his ad buy in New Hampshire that was perceived as to be a pulling out, and went into Florida. No, because all of this so-called negative stories that people talk about, they were coming out from May until November, and he was still the frontrunner during all that time.

It was really bad timing, confluence of bad events. You know, that's life. That's politics.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman, there's about 30 seconds left.

As you now survey and look at February 5th, look at Super Tuesday, what is the one obstacle standing in John McCain's way from really sewing this up?

REP. KING: I think he's in very good shape on February 5th. I would just say that between now and then he has to, I think, mollify some of the people on, you know, the conservative wing of the party who have taken some things that John has said over the years, maybe they wounded him. I mean, he just should deal with them and, you know, not treat them as being the enemy, try to work with them.

Because again I consider myself conservative. I supported John McCain in 2000. He is a solid conservative on the issues that really matter the most, including national security, including Iraq, including fighting Islamic terrorism. You have to emphasize that and show that he's willing to work with the right.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

Congressman Peter King, a supporter of Giuliani. That's over. I presume you'll be speaking out for McCain as we go along as well.

REP. KING: Yeah, I'll be actually endorsing John today.

MR. GREGORY: All right, terrific. Nice to have you do it here.

Congressman King, thanks very much as always. Talk to you soon.

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