In an appearance on Thursday’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani compared former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to Ronald Reagan. In contrast, Giuliani compared former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney unfavorably to George H. W. Bush.
“Well, I believe [Gingrich is the most electable Republican] for a couple of reasons,” Giuliani said. “I’m not sure he is. I think you look at these polls, Romney is ahead in most of them — ahead of where Newt is by three or four points. I kind of go back to 1980. And I remember the Carter White House just dying for Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was the dumb actor. Ronald Reagan said incendiary things. Ronald Reagan was like Newt — gosh, you never know what he was going to say and the whole world would go crazy. The New York Times would write editorials. There was [George H.W.] Bush — greatest resume of anyone that ran for president, solid citizen, right on the mark. They got Reagan and they got trounced. And it may be that Newt is appealing to something that Mitt isn’t appealing to. There’s something wrong when you’ve been running as long as Mitt has and you’re at 25 percent and you don’t go much above and don’t go much below — 75 percent of the other Republicans are telling you something about him.”
Giuliani, who campaigned against Romney during the 2008 presidential cycle, also warned that his tendency to change positions “on a dime” makes him more vulnerable to President Barack Obama, adding that Romney is also the least likely to connect to so-called Reagan Democrats — a coveted portion of the electorate in prior campaigns.
“What are we looking for?” Giuliani asked. “Are we looking for the Reagan Democrats? Who makes the closer connection to the Reagan Democrats? Mitt Romney? — that’s where I start talking about elitism, an aura of elitism — or Newt who can talk to them, who comes to them from a very, very large extent? I think there are a lot of ways you do cross-party analysis. It isn’t just one way. Ronald Reagan was the least likely guy that was going to get the Reagan Democrats from his ideological position. Bush was the most likely to get those Democrats. Bush could never get the Democrats because Bush was an elitist. Reagan knew how to talk to them. Newt knows how to talk to them. He will be able to do better with Reagan Democrats. I feel more comfortable campaigning for him in the suburbs — which is where I think I know how to campaign the best — and selling him in the suburbs to Reagan Democrats than I do Mitt Romney.”
He later said that when Gingrich has “calmed down” and is behind the scenes, he becomes a “practical, smart guy.”
“Man, oh, man, I can give you a list of stupid things I said, that Barack Obama has said, stupid things that Mitt Romney has recently said. I worked with Newt also, not as closely as you did. As the mayor of New York, most of the time he was the speaker, I found working with him and Bill Clinton very easy. And we worked the crime bill. Remember you [ Republicans in the House of Representatives] voted down the crime bill before Newt took over. Clinton wanted to put the crime bill back together. It was going to get me $100 million for New York City to help me reduce crime. And I spent a lot of time in negotiating with Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, and when he calms down and relaxes, he’s a totally practical, smart guy.”