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« New KY Gov Poll | Blog Home Page | Long-Term Negatives For MoveOn? »

At NRA Forum, Rudy Gets Tepid Response

WASHINGTON -- Before a gathering of gun rights activists in Washington today, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who as mayor took stands that were seen as pro-gun control, took pains to assure the audience that, as president, he would be an ally. Despite his previous positions, Giuliani told the crowd, "there are many more things that we have in common."

"You never get a candidate you agree with one hundred percent. I'm not even sure I agree with myself one hundred percent," he joked.

His pro-gun control positions, he said, allowed him to "take a city that was the crime capitol of America and make it the safest large city" in the country. After crime rose thanks to what Giuliani called "left wing policy choices," his administration's move to hold people accountable for their actions reduced crime. "The results speak for themselves," he said. "It's people that commit crimes, not guns."

Voicing support for a recent court decision striking down a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C, Giuliani maintained that "the Second Amendment is a freedom as important as the freedoms in the other ten amendments."

The mayor also took the time to blast MoveOn.org for a recent advertisement critical of General David Petraeus, and took a veiled shot at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who voted against a resolution yesterday condemning the group's attack. MoveOn.org, said Giuliani, "spent hundreds of millions on the politics of personal destruction, which happens to be a Clinton phrase, by the way."

"You have absolutely no right to impugn [Petraeus's] integrity," Giuliani said, earning his biggest applause of the day. "That is precisely what MoveOn.org did."

Asked about his support for a 2000 lawsuit aimed at holding gun companies liable for shootings, Giuliani said the lawsuit had taken turns he doesn't agree with, and that the events of September 11th redefined his thinking on gun ownership. "I was taking advantage of every law and every interpretation I could think of to reduce crime in New York City," he explained. "I didn't anticipate the lawsuit would go in the direction it is now."

Giuliani closed by urging NRA members to back the candidate they found most electable, and to seek common ground. "Who is going to be the best president overall to lead this country?" he asked. "I would like us to respect each other because we have very similar views."

Second Amendment activists greeted the mayor with little enthusiasm but polite applause. The constituency is one that will likely never be Giuliani's number one fan base, yet one that plays an important role in a Republican primary fight. "To get elected, I need your support," Giuliani said.

Giuliani refused to take questions afterward, though he did tell memebers of the media that "I think we did well." As his three-car caravan pulled away from the Capitol Hilton, the mayor has to hope that those inside thought the same way. If not, Second Amendment activists could prove a prickly thorn in Giuliani's side.