[Update, 8:24 pm Eastern: Audio and video clips from the interview added.]
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was a bit surprised by Rudy Giuliani’s answer during Wednesday’s Situation Room, after asking the former mayor to reassess his prediction last year about “on-the-job training” for a President Obama. Blitzer inquired whether his “worst fears [had] come true.” Giuliani answered, “In many respects, it’s much worse than I thought.” The anchor merely replied, “Really?” [audio clips from the interview are available here].
Blitzer’s question and response to the former mayor’s answer occurred near the end of the interview, after the two had discussed gun control and health care. The anchor played a clip from Giuliani’s speech last year at the Republican convention in Minneapolis, where he bashed the then-candidate Obama’s modicum of experience: “John McCain has been tested- Barack Obama has not. Tough times require strong leadership, and this is no time for on-the-job training.”
The CNN anchor complimented Giuliani for the “good sound bite from the speech,” and asked for his assessment of the Obama presidency so far. The Republican’s answer led to Blitzer’s surprised reaction, and the anchor asked for an explanation:
BLITZER: He’s been in office now for six months. Have your worst fears come true, or are you satisfied?
GIULIANI: In many respects, it’s much worse than I thought.
GIULIANI: It’s much further to the left than I thought.
BLITZER: What part?
GIULIANI: Well, the stimulus program, which wasn’t a stimulus program at all- it was a- a massive, unprecedented kind of Christmas tree of Democratic programs that would be- and now when you trace the money, it ends more in Democratic districts than Republican districts- a lot of it hasn't been spent, that- that has- has been spent for political priorities. It was a- spending at a level which I’ve never seen before. I think what he’s added to the debt is catastrophic. I think it will create enormous burdens for our children, and I think it creates the real risk of inflation.
Earlier in the segment, which began 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, the exchange between Blitzer and Giuliani sounded more like a Crossfire-style debate, with the anchor was taking the Obama’s administration’s side:
WOLF BLITZER: Let’s talk about health care reform, a critical issue right now for the country. Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina- he made news this week when he said this: ‘If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.’ He’s not backing away from that either. You agree with Senator DeMint?
RUDY GIULIANI: (Laughs) Well, I think- I think it’s a critical measure for a different reason. I think- I don’t see the politics of it, as much as I do the tremendous impact that I think- a destructive impact on the American system as we know it. I doubt that-
BLITZER: Because, right now, forty million or 45 million Americans don’t have any health insurance.
GIULIANI: They don’t, but about half of them could afford it if it was just more affordable, and what you don’t want to do is ruin the system for the whatever million, 90 million- 100 million- 118 million-
BLITZER: President Obama keeps saying if you like what you have for the private insurance, you like your doctor, you can keep exactly that- nothing is going to change.
GIULIANI: (Laughs) Well then, what are all these commissioners that he’s appointing that are going to determine health care outcomes? And the fact that you add 30, 40 million people to a government program that’s already very large means the government will be the major player in health care. It already is pretty close to being the major player-
BLITZER: He says that he wants one government option to compete with the private insurance companies-
GIULIANI: But that government option will be so big it will- it will just overwhelm all private insurance companies. It will be- if it’s 40 million people, that conceivably could be part of it-
BLITZER: But that doesn’t- it doesn’t necessarily mean all 40 million would opt for the government option.
GIULIANI: No, but you know- what it does mean- it means that a lot of people who have- who presently have private insurance will opt for it because it will be cheaper. In fact, they believe- the estimates believe that at least half the people that join that government program will be people who presently have private insurance.
BLITZER: Their argument- their argument is that if there’s a cheaper government option, that will put pressure on the private insurers, like Blue Cross, United Health Care, whatever- to lower their premiums.
GIULIANI: Well, it also will mean- they may lower their services., and they may- you read this bill carefully, which is one of the reasons why-
BLITZER: Which bill are you talking about?
GIULIANI: I’m talking about the House bill- I
GUILIANI: If you read the bill carefully, it has things in it like- a government official determining whether you can have stents after you’re 59 years old.
BLITZER: Well, right now, a private insurance company bureaucrat is making that kind of decision.
GIULIANI: Yeah, but you can walk out on that if you want.
BLITZER: But if you don’t have any- if- you might not have any options. You might not be able to leave that insurance company.
GIULIANI: You can- and you have different insurance companies that have different programs and your employer or you can shop between different programs. When the government makes that decision for 40, 50 million people, that’s a very frightening- it’s a very frightening thing.
BLITZER: Because the- the argument is- you know, do you trust a Blue Cross/Blue Shield bureaucrat or a United Health Care bureaucrat, any more than you would trust a U.S. government bureaucrat?
GIULIANI: I trust lots of different companies being available, competing with each other. I really believe there should be a lot more competition and a lot more of it should be turned over to private enterprise. I trust my doctor to be able to deal with four or five different private companies, rather than a big, massive government that frightens the heck out of you- running this.
BLITZER: So you don’t believe these private insurance companies would be able to survive if there were this government insurer?
GIULIANI: I think the private insurers would be overwhelmed.
BLITZER: So they would be-
GIULIANI: Right now, Medicaid has a big impact on the pricing of private insurance. If you, all of a sudden, double, in essence, the size of Medicaid, it will overwhelm- private insurance companies will be gone. And this whole argument over whether we’re nationalizing health care or not- I think part of the problem the administration is having- it’s not being honest. Yes, they want to nationalize health care. That is precisely what they’re doing when they build-
BLITZER: They deny that.
GIULIANI: A big government- but what’s the big government insurance company?
BLITZER: It’s going to be one- one option available to- to individuals. If- if you like what you got now, they say keep it.
GIULIANI: But if you don’t, then you join the 40 or 50 million who are part of the nationalized health care. That is- that’s bigger than socialized medicine in- in England. There aren’t that many people in the socialized medicine program in England. And if these models worked in England and Canada and elsewhere, it would be great. But what the heck do we want to become England and Canada for? They’re coming here for treatment. Nobody goes there for treatment.