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Giuliani Stumps At CfG

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is proud of his city. Rather, he's proud of how he tamed what he sees as the out-of-control fiscal beast that was the Big Apple. Meeting with the fiscally conservative Club for Growth today in Washington, Giuliani sought to continue building the narrative that, as a tax- and spending-cutter, he ought to be the group's ideal candidate.

"You really need to take a look at that record," Texas Gov. Rick Perry told the audience, after endorsing Giuliani earlier in the morning. "It is a powerful story that those of us who are fiscal conservatives can shout from the mountaintop."

Giuliani used the speech to lay out his own agenda, based on cutting taxes and spending, reducing lawsuits and moderating government regulation, while taking a few veiled shots at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and more overt shots at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

"My ideas on the economy and economic philosophy are proven," Giuliani said. "In my case, I can support what I believe with results. And I think that is a very big distinction between me and the other candidates." Asked to contrast his health care plan with that of Romney, Giuliani demurred, saying he would rather contrast his plan with HillaryCare. "With regard to my Republican opponents, I try not to criticize them unless they criticize me, and then I can't help it," he joked.

Clinton's plan, he said, would drive up costs, something he implied Romney's plan would do as well. "She's going to mandate that you have health care, which Governor Romney did in Massachusetts," he said. "The minute you mandate something, the cost of it goes up."

While an early Romney campaign memo suggested the former governor would use his campaign to contrast himself with France, a paragon of big government, Giuliani took virtually the opposite track, pointing out the positives in new French President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to cut corporate tax rates and eliminate the estate tax. Sarkozy's moves on taxes, Giuliani suggested, was partially borne out of his experience as mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Like many groups Giuliani addresses, there are aspects of his record with which Club for Growth members find fault. Club president Pat Toomey asked Giuliani pointedly whether his views on the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which he initially supported, had changed. "It's one of my many occasions on which I can point out to you that I'm not perfect," Giuliani said. The bill, which he called a "mistake," is "a process that needs to be reviewed."

Still, Giuliani promised not to make the same mistakes he's made in front of other groups. Noting that some who aren't insured have at least enough money to buy a cell phone, he brought up something of a sore subject, given criticism he underwent after answering a call in front of the National Rifle Association last month. "I put mine off this morning, by the way," he joked, eliciting laughter.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson and Romney will address the group later today.