POLITICS

Giuliani Warns GOP Against Getting Too Aggressive In Health Care Debate

08/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani warned his GOP colleagues on Wednesday not to get too involved in the health care debate, arguing that it was better to leave the squabbles and disagreements to the Democrats.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the former New York City mayor said that taking a principled stand against additional government intervention into the health care system was the proper posture for any conservative. Politically, however, he fretted that Republican criticism of the president could actually create a straw man that Democrats and the media would find advantageous.

"I think we should allow the Democrats to battle it out without getting too involved in their battle, because then when we get involved, the media realizes, or at least a big portion of the media realizes, they hate us more and then we become the target," Giuliani said. "So, if we let them battle it must be something really wrong if Democrats are disagreeing."

The remarks are another in what is a small series of step-backs that GOP officials have taken from some of the more aggressive attacks against the Obama White House. Days after Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) predicted that health care could be the president's "Waterloo," two Republican members of the House of Representatives suggested that they would not have used such words. In addition, there has been some unease among Republicans, most notably columnist Charles Krauthammer, that RNC Chairman Michael Steele had injected himself too far into the health care debate -- making it easy for Obama to claim that conservative opposition was strictly political.

In regard to the RNC chair, however, Giuliani insisted the right approach had been taken.

"He did it exactly the right way," said the former mayor. "He stood up for our principles; he didn't overdo it and make it personal. He didn't become the center of the debate. But he participated. And we have to participate, actually, because these are matters of principles for us. These are not just political issues for us."

What those principles are, Giuliani did not exactly make clear. Championing the private industry's role in administering health care, Giuliani insisted that the current system, while beset by some "inequities and imperfections," was "the best in the world."

Why, he asked, would we want "to borrow a system that doesn't work, that people are escaping from, that people are dying from and try to impose it here?"

Suggest a correction