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Andrea Useem
On Leadership producer

Andrea Useem

Andrea Useem is the producer of On Leadership.

Video transcript: Rudy Giuliani on 'honorable compromise'

Rudy Giuliani
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani sat down with Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart to talk about leadership on Monday, March 1, at the Washington Post video studio. This is a lightly edited transcript of the video.

Opening quote: "It's foolish to make compromise a bad word, or to even suggest that people of principle don't compromise. You compromise to accomplish what you think are the most important things to be accomplished."

Jonathan Capehart: How important is compromise for a leader? Is it a primary tool to have? Is it something a good leaders uses liberally or conservatively or not at all?

Rudy Giuliani: It's neither good nor bad; it's sometimes necessary, and it is sometimes very good.

I think compromise has taken on a bad connotation, [there is] a bad feeling about it. The reality is, it's knowing what to compromise about and what not to compromise about. It used to be, in politics, that the art of compromise was considered a very honorable thing, a very good thing. You can never get everything that you want, so you try to get as much of it as you can.

My mentor in that respect, Ronald Reagan, used to say, "I'm better off getting 70 percent of what I want than getting none of it."

Capehart: Senator Bayh, in an op-ed for the New York Times, suggested there should be a weekly lunch between the two leaderships, the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership. Do you think that's a good idea, or is that gimmicky?

Giuliani: I don't think it's gimmicky. I think gimmicky things sometimes work.

Capehart: So for political leaders who might be watching this -- You were a Republican mayor of a very Democratic, very liberal city. So what advice can you give to today's political leaders about bipartisanship?*

Giuliani: The strangest thing -- I watch all the discussions about how it used to be in Washington and how it is now. The big key to my being able to get a lot of my agenda done was Peter Vallone. Peter was the speaker of the [New York] City Council --

Capehart: Democratic speaker of the City Council --

Giuliani: Right, Democratic speaker of the City Council, and I decided I would meet with Peter every week. Peter was good enough to agree. And we met every single week whether we had anything to agree about or not. And the theory of it was, no matter how much we were going to fight with each other, what could we get accomplished? Were there things of mine that he could support? Were there things from the City Council that I could support?

That didn't mean we didn't have some really big battles. But even when we were having big battles, we would meet every week. Sometimes we would begin by clearing the air about the battle we'd just had, and then we'd sit down and talk about things in the budget he could agree with, things that I could agree with. We'd remind ourselves that we had a responsibility to run the city. And, gosh, I would suggest that process on anybody who has to govern: Gotta have a personal relationship.

Capehart: Would that work here in Washington, do you think, where it's not so much the chief executive and the legislature that have the problem: it's the opposite sides of the legislature -- the Senate and the House, the Democrats and Republicans not being able to talk to each other.

Giuliani: It used to work. It really did. And the political differences were as great -- We tend to think that our political differences are greater than anybody else's. You know, the political differences in the 50s and 60s and 70s were just as great as they are today. And I think those Democrat-Republican relationships are very, very important. Even if they don't change the ideological differences, they find the practical things they can work on.

And that's the way you get things done. It's not a zero-sum game. Not everybody in this country agrees with you. If you can accomplish a little bit more of your agenda than their's, then you probably won the negotiation. You usually don't win a negotiation by getting every single thing that you want.

*A special thanks to On Leadership panelist Robert Goodwin for proposing this question.

READ ALSO: Jonathan Capehart on Giuliani's plea for bipartisanship.

By Andrea Useem

 |  March 3, 2010; 6:17 AM ET
Category:  Video transcript Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The Republicans posited 5 or 6 specific and actionable practices to reduce health care costs and expand coverage to those without insurance. The Democrats introduced a 2700 page omnibus package that fundamentally changes the free market system. Where do you see the opportunity for compromise? Obama wants to incorporate many of the Republican ideas on top of everything else in the behemoth plan. Republicans haven't even been given a chance to compromise. All the compromise has been between liberal and moderate Dems. So go teabag yourself!

Posted by: Love-em-or-leave-town | March 4, 2010 1:34 PM
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Dear Tea Baggers,

I guess he's not "America's Mayor" any more for you, huh? I guess now he's a stinking socialist.

Posted by: trippin | March 4, 2010 8:46 AM
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