VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Rudy Giuliani charged Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton made a “big mistake” when he failed to see the first World Trade Center attack as an act of terror, not a mere crime – one that set the stage for even bigger and bolder attacks culminating with Sept. 11, 2001.
“The United States government, then President Clinton, did not respond,” Giuliani said, ticking off a series of terrorist attacks that followed, including the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa and the USS Cole in 2000. “Osama bin Laden declared war on us. We didn’t hear it.”
Giuliani acknowledged that it’s clearer now in retrospect what was happening, “but now is now, and there is no reason to go back into denial, and that is essentially what the Democratic candidates for president want to do … to put the country in reverse to the 1990s.”
Giuliani used his tough-on-terror talk Tuesday to appeal to a pair of sharply different groups but ones that generally take a hawkish view of Middle East policy – at evangelist Pat Robertson’s conservative Christian Regent University here, and later before a heavily Democratic audience at a Jewish temple in suburban Maryland.
Before about 650 people at Regent, Giuliani avoided any explicit mention of his pro-abortion-rights stance or other social issues that have caused some conservatives to reject his candidacy. Instead, he argued, as he does in most of his political speeches, that fighting terrorism is the overarching issue of the 2008 election and one where he and conservatives who will pick the Republican nominee generally agree.
“It’s not about one issue, it’s about many issues,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also said the United States must stay in Iraq until that country is an ally, or risk a regional war.
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