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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — appearing at an early morning fund-raiser in Toledo on Wednesday for U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel — defended Mitt Romney’s remarks about “the 47 percent” and said the presidential hopeful should “play politics” about the Obama Administration’s 2009 bailout of the auto industry.
Mr. Giuliani, who sought the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2008, said the auto bailout has “played out” very favorably for President Obama.
“I sympathize with Mitt because I thought the bailout was illegal. ... It took property without due process of law,” he said. “He has to moderate his position on it because he is running against the tide. ... Right now, politically, that’s one you’d rather not raise. I still think he has a chance to win Michigan. The only thing holding him back in winning Michigan is probably his opposition to the bailout, so maybe that would’ve been an area in which it would have been better had he played politics.”
President Obama has repeatedly heralded the auto industry bailout as a successful cornerstone during his administration.
Obama campaign spokesman Jessica Kershaw took umbrage with Mr. Giuliani’s comments.
“Rudy Giuliani’s assertion that Mitt Romney shouldn’t be embarrassed by writing off nearly half of the country is a massive insult to millions of hard-working Americans and further proves that neither Romney or his Republican allies understand the majority of the electorate he seeks to represent,” she told The Blade after the fund-raiser. “It’s disappointing that a candidate for president of the United States would allow his partners on the campaign trail to completely dismiss hard-working Americans, senior citizens, students, servicemen and women, veterans, and others who have contributed to our country’s success and will continue doing so in the future.”
The Mandel-Giuliani event cost $500 a plate for a private breakfast at the Dorr Street headquarters of Health Care REIT Inc. It was followed by a town-hall type meeting that cost $125 per person.
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Mr. Mandel, who is running for U.S. Senate against Democrat Sherrod Brown, said his most recent internal poll has him slightly ahead of the Democratic incumbent. Other polls show them tied. The race is among the most expensive political contests in the nation.
Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications Inc., the parent company of The Blade, asked during the event for the opportunity to give Mr. Mandel some advice. He said the auto bailout “should be handled the political way” and that Mr. Mandel could knock Mr. Brown “off stride” if he said the auto bailout started under former President George W. Bush in October, 2008.
“This isn’t the primary. This isn’t about the Tea Party. This is about winning the general election,” Mr. Block said, adding that a candidate can’t be against the survival of the auto industry and expect to be elected in Ohio.
Sadie Weiner, spokesman for Mr. Brown, said Mr. Giuliani’s comments about the auto bailout indicate how dangerous Mr. Romney’s and Mr. Mandel’s stance on the issue is for the Republicans.
“At the end of the day, Josh Mandel opposed the auto-industry rescue that helped to save or protect 850,000 jobs in Ohio, and many in the Toledo area,” Ms. Weiner said. “Josh Mandel can bring in as many Republican surrogates as he wants, but it won’t change the fact that he called Sherrod un-American for supporting the auto industry. ... The idea that the auto rescue is all about politics is cynical and exactly what is wrong with his candidacy.”
Mr. Giuliani also relaunched accusations of a White House cover-up regarding the Sept. 11 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya — something that is becoming election fodder. Like other Republicans, Mr. Giuliani seized on confusion over the death of J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.
“We cannot stand four more years of Barack Obama,” Mr. Giuliani told about 100 people at the town-hall meeting.
“We can’t stand that kind of damage to our economy or what you see unfolding in Libya. The kind of cover-up that took place. The death of four brave Americans,” he said.
The former New York mayor acknowledged Ohio’s importance as “the center of the political universe” because the swing state could decide the presidency along with the race between Mr. Mandel and Mr. Brown.
“We need a United States senator from Ohio who is going to represent the real interests of Ohio ... not just the left-wing agenda of the United States Senate,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Mr. Romney’s “47 percent” comment was among the topics Mr. Giuliani was questioned about.
The Republican presidential nominee, during a fund-raiser in May at a supporter’s home in Boca Raton, Fla., told wealthy donors that 47 percent of Americans see themselves as “victims” who cannot be persuaded to take personal responsibility for their lives and will support President Obama “no matter what.”
Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Romney should be proud of the remarks.
“If I were Governor Romney, I would say that I am glad I had the courage to raise an issue nobody else would raise — that too high a percentage of Americans are not paying taxes, and that it’s dangerous when we start to get to half of the country not paying taxes,” he said. “And what I want to do is put those people to work so they can pay taxes, and I think Governor Romney should not be embarrassed about his remark.”
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.