Is Rudy Giuliani running for something?
On a visit to the crucial primary state of New Hampshire, the former New York mayor took dead aim at Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts health care law, calling on him to apologize to America for inspiring President Obama’s own reforms.
“[Romney] can’t talk his way out of this,” Giuliani told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “A mandate is a mandate is a mandate is a mandate is mandate. Let’s get real.”
According to Giuliani, Romney has “taken away people’s freedom” with his requirement that Massachusetts residents purchase health insurance, and his failure to admit it was a mistake is damaging to the party.
“[It] hurts us in being able to overthrow ‘Obamacare.’ In a general election, that would be a very big issue,” he said. Giuliani recommended Romney should tell voters “I’d never do that stupid thing again” and move on.
In addition to laying into the de facto frontrunner for the GOP nomination, Giuliani tacked right on the economy, challenging the rest of the field to come up with a plan on entitlements like Paul Ryan’s, which none have fully embraced.
“The candidates have been considerably more ambiguous than [Ryan] has been about what should be done,” Giuliani said.
On the debt ceiling fight, he said the GOP “should take the President to the mat” and get as many cuts as possible in exchange for their votes.
The recent behavior from Giuliani, who says he is still undecided on a presidential run, is in line with a broader trend of potential candidates unexpectedly testing the waters. With Republicans complaining of a limited 2012 field and a clear opening for a candidate who can exploit Romney’s much-publicized weaknesses with the base, it’s possible someone might decide this is their last best chance at the nomination. In addition to Giuliani, Texas Governor Rick Perry hinted at a run recently despite issuing near-Shermanesque denials throughout the last year. Even Donald Trump told TPM the weak field is causing him to reconsider a White House bid. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who decided against entering the race himself, told CBS over the weekend that the eventual nominee might come out of “Nowheresville.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.