Rudy on Iraq: Like Pre-Rudy NY

At a fund-raiser this morning in Manhattan, Rudy Giuliani said that lessons for solving the chaotic situation in Iraq could be found in how he kicked the mob out of New York, and that healthcare, like plasma TVs, would become affordable if opened to a free market, according to an account from one donor present at the meeting.

According to Jonine Bernstein, a Memorial Sloan-Kettering epidemiologist who was among more than 100 donors attending the morning meeting at the Yale Club, Giuliani spoke about matters of defense, health care, Israel and Homeland Security allocations at the closed door meeting. Rudy Washington, who has suffered health problems in connection to the terrorist attacks, was in attendance, as was former state Senator Roy Goodman.

He also spoke about the war in Iraq, a subject he hasn't exactly been eager to discuss in depth so far in the race.

On that subject, Bernstein said, "he gave the analogy of what he did to clean up New York City and root out the mob."

Bernstein described his Iraq comments this way:

"In the past people had gone after individual families, but then, sure enough you go after one member, the other four or five or six families are sitting there really relieved. But when he was mayor he got them where it hurt, at the point of their production; laundering money and strong-arming people. He gave that analogy to Iraq, and talking about the terrorists and how it's everywhere and how we have to take it as a whole unit, and not just cherry pick."

The conclusion, according to Bernstein: "His whole point is that we are on the offense. The terrorists are attacking us, so we have to continue with that approach instead of just sitting and waiting. We have to go forward."

She added, "He was talking about doing a frontline approach."

Bernstein described the audience, which was gathered around about 10 tables, as "captivated."

"There wasn't one person on their BlackBerrys and they were all lawyers," she said.

Giuliani also employed an analogy to explain his idea for healthcare.

"He gave this analogy about plasma TVs," said Bernstein. "He said that in the very beginning plasma TVs were so expensive and only very few people could afford it. And now with greater volume and greater demand the price has dropped, and that could be a model for healthcare — in the sense of privatization of healthcare. That if the government keeps supporting the healthcare industry it would just crush us."

There was also a question about Homeland Security funds.

"Somebody asked him how he would appropriate Homeland Security funds to New York City compared to everywhere else and he made a parallel to the Yankees," she said.

"He said somebody once asked him to be commissioner of baseball and he said he couldn’t do it because he would give everything to the Yankees."

But when he got around to answering the question, she described Giuliani as "very open-minded."

"He said that while he thinks the big major centers need a lot of protection he wouldn't ignore the smaller places. For example, in Pennsylvania, where flight 93 went down, that the school almost got hurt.

"He made some analogies that actually everything has to be all beefed up around the country and it's not just the major centers that are known targets. That you need to have the preparedness.

From there Giuliani segued into a discussion about Katrina, in which he expressed frustration about the government's response and that it raised questions about the country's homeland security preparedness.

The crowd’s attention was most rapt when Giuliani spoke about 9/11, an area in which the crowd of New Yorkers was intimately aware of his involvement. "So, he doesn't have to say much in that regard," Bernstein said. "But he did. He spoke about it."