By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani addressed the conservative membership of the Heritage Foundation last night with a speech that -- quite naturally, given the audience -- stuck to foreign and economic policy instead of turning to social issues.
Fresh from the first debate among 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls, where he acknowledged that he respects "a woman's right to make a different choice" on abortion, Giuliani avoided subjects on which he and his audience were likely to disagree intensely.
Instead, he talked at length about the need for tax cuts, control of federal spending and freedom. His remarks on freedom got a lot of applause, as did his pledge about the 42 percent of civilian federal employees set to retire during the next two presidential terms.
"Some politicians assume that we'll just replace all of them," Giuliani said at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. "I bet there are some politicians in the other party -- I don't know, maybe in ours -- that think we ought to increase them. . . . Here's what I would do: I would seek to replace only half of them."
On foreign policy, Giuliani reiterated the call he made at The Citadel in South Carolina on Saturday for a larger Army that could more effectively stand up to threats around the world.
Giuliani said he thinks the Army should grow by 10 brigades beyond the size now targeted by the Bush administration. He said he rejects the idea that Army recruits will be hard to find because the Iraq war is controversial.
"The war is controversial on CNN," Giuliani said. "The war is controversial on MSNBC. The war is not controversial at The Citadel."
Giuliani told the crowd of several hundred that he was pleased to hear about Sunday's election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France. Holding up a copy of the New York Post headlined "A French Rudy," Giuliani said, "I thought it was a good omen."