Rudy Giuliani, unscripted

What happens when America's mayor loses his speech.

By Tim Grieve

Published July 6, 2007 2:12PM (EDT)

After a few rounds of storm-induced travel delays and changes, Rudy Giuliani arrived at a campaign event in Maryland Thursday without a copy of the speech he planned to give there. He told the waiting crowd that he'd have to "do it from the top of my head," which he said is "always better and more interesting" anyway.

No doubt.

Here's Rudy, off the top of his head, on the "12 Commitments" he says he'll keep if he's elected president of the United States:

"I'm going to talk about the Middle East, and I'm going to talk about it in the context of the first commitment that I've made in the 12 commitments that I just happen to have with me, actually. I carry them around with me all the time. It reminds me as to what my campaign is all about. We made 12 commitments of principles, things that our campaign is about. And the reason I did this is, I have a very, very strong belief that American politics is not enough about ideas. It's too much about things that really belong on gossip pages, or maybe it's about personalities and maybe it's about general feelings. And all those things are important. I'm not saying they're not important, and an appropriate amount of time should be spent on them, but the most time should be spent on ideas. . . .

"So what we decided to do was we'd lay out the 12 things we thought were the most important, and then we would spend the summer discussing it in more detail. They're all single sentences, easy to read. You look at it, you can decide whether you agree with us on most things or not. If you agree with us on everything, I'd be really surprised, because I don't agree with us on everything. I agree with us on most things. But if you agree with us on most things, then you can get an idea of whether you want me to be president. . . . .

"So let me talk to you, there are 12 commitments here. Eleven of them are in no order of importance, because I can't tell you between No. 2 and No. 12 which is the most important. They're all important and at different times different ones are important. But I can tell you what the first most important is, for sure. The first commitment that I make is I will keep America on offense against terrorism. And now, if I may, let me tell you what that means, because that's a statement, it's a sentence, it's a very complex idea. And let me see if I can make it a little bit clearer. It comes from my view of the 20th century, both the 20th century and my understanding of Islamic terrorism. . . .

" . . . during the Democratic debate, I couldn't find one of them that ever mentioned the words 'Islamic terrorist.' None of them. In fact, at one point, one of them was asked, who are the biggest enemies of the United States? The biggest No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 enemies of the United States. Do you know [who] they listed as number one? North Korea.

"North Korea is an entity. North Korea is dangerous. I mean, I grant that, and, boy, we have to be really careful about North Korea and sometimes we do a real long foreign policy address on North Korea, which I'm happy to do. I'm writing an article for Foreign Affairs, where we describe what we would do about North Korea. But I don't remember North Koreans coming to America and killing us. . . .

"I don't even remember communists or Nazis doing that. Now, they were more dangerous in other ways, no question about that, but you've got to be realistic if you want to lead. You have to lead from cold, hard facts, not from fantasy. If you can't say the words 'Islamic terrorist,' then you have a hard time figuring out who is our biggest enemy in this world. How do the people organize that are coming here, who plan to kill us? And then how can you stop them from doing that? That's what being on offense means. . . .

"So, if there is one main issue, if there is one big issue, if there is one single issue in this campaign, and rarely are there, and there probably isn't even in this campaign -- but if I had to select one, and that's why I made it number one, it is if I'm president of the United States, I can guarantee you we will be on offense against Islamic terrorists in order to make sure that we end this war as soon as possible and with as few casualties as possible and keep America as safe as possible.

"Thank you very much."

Correction: The service that provides our transcripts posted Giuliani's speech today and indicated that he had delivered it yesterday. In fact, Giuliani made these comments last week.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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