Presidential Candidate Has Advice For Blair

Thursday, March 29th 2007, 8:26 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani on Thursday urged British Prime Minister Tony Blair not to back down on refusing to negotiate the release of 15 British sailors and marines detained in Iran.

"I urge Tony Blair to stand up to them," Giuliani said after shaking hands and dining at a barbecue restaurant in downtown Oklahoma City.

The United Nations Security Council has expressed "grave concern" about the incident and called for the early release of the British service men and women.

Appealing to conservative voters in Oklahoma, Giuliani stressed his work as a Justice Department official and federal prosecutor during the Reagan administration and his leadership after the 9-11 attack in New York when he was mayor.

Blair has said he will not negotiate with Iran for the release of the sailors and marines, and Giuliani said the British leader should remain strong.

Giuliani said he would be a leader in the mold of Ronald Reagan in fighting the war on terror, which he said was broader than Iraq. He recalled the release of hostages by Iran on the day Reagan took office in 1981 after defeating Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

"Iran has got to realize that we are not going to allow them to get nuclear weapons," Giuliani said.

Although he is on record with different views than social conservatives on such issues as abortion, gun control and gay rights, Giuliani said those voters should look at his overall record and his pledge to appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court.

He said he would fight to reduce the federal deficit, just as he "turned around" a debt- and crime-ridden New York City.

Giuliani arrived in Oklahoma City during a driving rainstorm about an hour after a tornado warning was sounded. A tornado touched down in western part of the city shortly before his visit, injuring four people.

Giuliani, who apparently was unaware of the extent of the storm, said Oklahoma City was "very, very dear to my heart because of what we shared in common."

He was referring to the bombing of a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, an act of domestic terrorism that left 168 dead, and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, when about 3,000 perished.

After dining on ribs and brisket, the presidential aspirant went to the Oklahoma History Center, where 125 fundraising tickets were sold, an aide said. Supporters paid $2,300 for a reception and photo opportunity with Giuliani and $500 to attend a cocktail party where he spoke. The event was closed to the press.

At Earl's Rib Palace in Oklahoma City's Bricktown, Giuliani signed autographs and posed for pictures for free.

"I definitely want to be part of the campaign," said 17-year-old Hunter Ligon, mayor of the Youth Council of Oklahoma City, a civic organization of young people that shadows the local government.

Byron McGovern and his wife, Cheryl, posed with the mayor with their daughters -- 1 1/2-year-old Elle and 6-year-old Casady.

"It's nice to be able to pick your boss," said McGovern, a Pennsylvania native who is in the Air Force and stationed at Tinker Air Force Base.

Giuliani signed several copies of his book, "Leadership," and some in the crowd said they had been inspired by speeches based on the book given by Giuliani at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

"I feel like nobody's going to understand the threat of terrorism like Rudy Giuliani," said 20-year-old Jeff Peters. "I'm going to vote for him and help out as much as I can in the campaign."