Transcript: Rudy Giuliani on the 2008 presidential campaign
Jonathan Capehart: So what did you learn about leadership during your campaign for president?
Rudy Giuliani: Well, I learned that sometimes you can't overcome historical wisdom, which I thought we could. I made a series of mistakes when I ran for president, and this is probably the biggest one you could correct in the future, if somebody wanted to correct it.
We thought that you could get people to look beyond Iowa, New Hampshire, maybe even South Carolina, look a month and half into the future to Florida, since it was a bigger state, a more representative state. And we had people that told us that was not true, we had people that told us that it was true, but we thought we could change that. And I think the mistake that I made was not giving enough credit to historical precedence, how important it is in the way in which we determine presidents.
So that if you're going to run for president and get nominated, you better win Iowa, New Hampshire -- by then it's probably over. If it isn't over by then, it's over by South Carolina. John McCain, I believe, won the Republican nomination when he won in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire he defeated me, and my campaign was virtually over although we continued. He defeated Romney in the state right next to where Romney came from. Maybe you could say it was over in South Carolina when he defeated Huckabee. But by the time we got to Florida it was over.
The Clinton campaign would have been over, if Obama had done what everybody thought Obama was going to do, which was defeat her in New Hampshire. Just think of that: It would have been over in two, just two primaries; one not even a primary and a primary. The fact that she hung on in New Hampshire just extended it, but Obama finally won. So these things get decided in the first primary or two, and I don't think we appreciated that.
Capehart: Would you do it again?
Giuliani: I have no idea if I would do it again, but I would try not to make the same mistakes if I did it again.
Capehart: What I should have asked -- If you had to do it over again, would you run for president in '08?
Rudy Giuliani: Oh gosh, I don't know. I was conflicted about running when I did because I like John McCain so much. Now that I look back on it, that's a very tough question, I don't think any Republican could have won in 2008.
I just had a meeting with Mitt Romney, and we talked about this. And I told John this: I don't think any Republican would have won in 2008. I think if I had been nominated, or Mitt Romney had been nominated, Mike Huckabee, one of us would have lost once that financial crisis happened. And even if you argue, well, somebody might have handled it better, it was over, for a Republican, once that happened. But I'm still glad I ran.
You learn a great deal about America, you learn a lot about yourself. It was like a master's degree in all of the public issues. I learned much more about health care, I learned much more about energy, I learned much more about foreign policy because I took that part of it very seriously, all of the briefing parts of it. I spent a year and a half learning all these subjects, so that was a very -- I mean, it was a wonderful experience, I look back on it everyday. I mean, I traveled to a state now where I campaigned, I know people there. So you gain great things from it, even when you don't win.
Transcribed by Fahima Haque.
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