Rudy Giuliani rolled back into the New Hampshire glare last night, lavishing praise on the first-in-the-nation primary state whose voters he infuriated in 2008 by turning his attention to Florida, bashing President Obama over BP and pointedly refusing to rule out a new White House run of his own.
In addition to using his speech to do something he has not been known for in the 17 years since he was first elected mayor – admitting he made a mistake by not competing in New Hampshire – Giuliani used his remarks and interviews with local press to hammer Obama over the administration’s handling of the Gulf Coast oil spill.
He told James Pindell of the NH Political Report that President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina looked good by comparison.
“He got involved three or four days into it. He kept involved. A tremendous amount of money was involved to try to help the people over there,” Giuliani said of Obama. “He sort of got it after three or four days. We are talking 54 days now and he still hasn’t gotten it.”
Giuliani had other choice comments about Obama’s response to the spill.
"It's been a terrible display of somebody's lack of executive experience, never having been in charge and not appearing to have the instincts for it," Giuliani told the Associated Press before the Political Library at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics honored him for his commitment to the nations primary status.
"I particularly don't understand why you'd continue to have BP solely in charge when you're investigating them for a crime," he said. "It's like if somebody robs a bank in one of these movies where they blow up the safe and rob the bank. And you get the bank robbers to put the bank back together."
With Pindell, he dismissed the notion that he was testing the waters in New Hampshire in advance of 2012, a visit that happened to fall the same week as trips made by former New York Gov. George Pataki and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
“If I was going to test the waters I would do it sometime early next year,” he said, but asked to rule it out, he said, “Oh, no.”
Many observers speculate that Giuliani is simply looking to remain relevant political as distance grows from 2001 to now, or to enhance his business. He’s also still more than $1 million in debt with his campaign, and his race ended disastrously thanks to many factors, including his Florida strategy.
Still, he’s a sought-after speaker and fundraiser and has positioned himself to be involved in several races this cycle.
According to the AP, he joked about the award he was given, as organizers fielded some complaints that Giuliani was an odd choice for the honor. The NHIOP organizers said it was for the commitment he’s shown to New Hampshire since his losing presidential bid.
"I don't know that I ever got an award for losing before," Giuliani said. "But I was a good loser. It did not in any way affect my view that this is a very important primary."
"Your primary is a tremendous antidote against the American electorate being too manipulated, too spun, campaigns becoming one liners and one great picture," he said.
The other honoree of the night was Bernard Boutin, who steered then-candidate John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaigns in the Granite State.
Yet Boutin focused on the event Giuliani is best known for in his speech: The then-New York mayor’s handling of the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City.
"Everyone else was talking gloom and doom, you almost felt like calling pallbearers for the United States," he said. "But you talked of hope, you talked of courage, and I've never forgotten what you said."
In an op-ed in USA Today, likely 2012 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney also used the oil spill to favorably compared Giuliani, by name, to Obama.