9/11 could fac­tor heav­ily in Hil­lary-Gi­u­liani con­test

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Christina Bellantoni

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton has spent the more than five years since the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks mak­ing sure Repub­li­cans do not have the mo­nop­oly on an­titer­ror­ism lead­er­ship.

The New York Demo­crat has se­cured money for ground zero work­ers’ health ail­ments and has fought for Congress to bol­ster anti-ter­ror plans and fund­ing for high-risk cities.

Her strength on home­land se­cu­rity will es­pe­cially help her if she be­comes the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee and if front-run­ning for­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani be­comes the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee.

“A cri­sis brought us all to­gether, and we rolled up our sleeves,” Mrs. Clin­ton re­cently told a fo­rum for 2008 pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates hosted by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Fire­fight­ers.

Many in at­ten­dance lauded her for work­ing with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, to take care of those im­pacted by the at­tacks.

Mr. Schumer, a Clin­ton sup- porter, said White House can­di­dates will al­ways need tough ter­ror­ism talk be­cause the at­tacks changed ev­ery­thing.

“Whoever is go­ing to put to­gether the best plat­form on that is­sue will pre­vail, and I think Sen­a­tor Clin­ton will have the best plat­form be­cause she knows the is­sue so well,” he said.

The two sen­a­tors re­cently se­cured $50 mil­lion for treat­ment of Septem­ber 11 re­spon­ders and oth­ers suf­fer­ing ef­fects of the at­tacks, with Mrs. Clin­ton promis­ing to “keep fight­ing un­til we have the nec­es­sary and longterm funds in place to pre­vent th­ese vi­tal pro­grams from hav­ing to go cap in hand to that gov­ern­ment as the money dries up.”

Mrs. Clin­ton has said she may call Mr. Gi­u­liani as a wit­ness for her Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “World Trade Cen­ter cough.” He re­sponded by say­ing he hoped the in­quiry would be “above pol­i­tics,” ac­cord­ing to press re­ports. Gi­u­liani staffers did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

At the March fire­fight­ers’ fo­rum, Mrs. Clin­ton took a sub­tle jab at Mr. Gi­u­liani, who did not at­tend the event, say­ing she ap­pre­ci­ated their New York group’s en­dorse­ment of her Se­nate bid.

Some fire­fight­ers are ir­ri­tated that Mr. Gi­u­liani evokes the “Amer­ica’s Mayor” la­bel from his post-Septem­ber 11 lead­er­ship. They blame him for prob­lems with the ra­dios that emer­gency work­ers used in the World Trade Cen­ter and are up­set with him for halt­ing the re­cov­ery of hu­man re­mains at ground zero.

“Rudy Gi­u­liani has got bag­gage on 9/11, and that will come out,” said Rep. Jer­rold Nadler, a Demo­crat rep­re­sent­ing por­tions of New York City.

Mr. Nadler, who en­dorsed Mrs. Clin­ton, said she took “im­me­di­ate ac­tion” and be­came “a leader on it from the very be­gin­ning, fight­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion all the way.”

Mr. Gi­u­liani of­ten warns vot­ers that he wor­ries a Demo­cratic pres­i­dent would adopt a “pre-Septem­ber 11 men­tal­ity of be­ing on de­fense” and says Repub­li­cans are bet­ter pre­pared to han­dle a ter­ror­ist at­tack. When he said it two weeks ago, Demo­cratic can­di­dates bris­tled.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illi­nois said the for­mer mayor had “taken the pol­i­tics of fear to a new low,” and Mrs. Clin­ton said pro­tect­ing the U.S. from ter­ror­ists “shouldn’t be a Demo­cratic fight or a Repub­li­can fight.”

“The plain truth is that this ad­min­is­tra­tion has done too lit­tle to pro­tect our ports, make our mass tran­sit safer and pro­tect our cities,” she added.

A Jan. 30-31 Fox News/Opin­ion Dy­nam­ics poll showed the for­mer first lady to be per­ceived as the “tough­est on ter­ror­ism” by 16 per- cent of re­spon­dents, slightly ahead the 15 per­cent for Mr. Gi­u­liani and Ari­zona Sen. John McCain.

How­ever, an April USA To­day/Gallup poll shows Mr. Gi­u­liani would beat Mrs. Clin­ton 51 per­cent to 46 per­cent if the elec­tion were held to­day.

Mrs. Clin­ton, praised for say­ing in the April 26 de­bate that she would “re­tal­i­ate” if the U.S. were at­tacked by al Qaeda, reprised the an­swer on the stump on April 27.

“I know all too well the hor­rors of an at­tack on our own soil,” she said, adding that any pres­i­dent must “re­tal­i­ate, be­cause the United States must de­fend our in­ter­ests, our peo­ple, our econ­omy.”

She also ben­e­fited from Mr. Obama’s stum­bling an­swer to a de­bate ques­tion about his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse to an al Qaeda at­tack. He first brought up Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina and the need for “ef­fec­tive emer­gency re­sponse” and then talked about the need for trust­wor­thy intelligence.

He later re­cov­ered, say­ing, “We have gen­uine en­e­mies out there that have to be hunted down, net­works have to be dis­man­tled.”

Al­li­son Shelley / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton

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