Giuliani Aide Says McCain’s Comments on Kerik are “Not Straight Talk”

Rudy Giulani’s campaign is hitting back at the former mayor’s onetime friend John McCain for his comments earlier today linking Giuliani to freshly indicted former aide Bernard Kerik.

"It’s kind of shocking, since there is nothing new out there, that John McCain now changes his tune on Rudy Giuliani just because he is running for president," a Giuliani aide, speaking on background, just told me "That’s not straight talk."

The aide was referring to the remarks McCain made this morning at a press conference with Tom Ridge, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, after today’s indictment came down.

At the event, McCain cited Kerik’s training the Iraqi police force in 2003, when McCain was visiting Iraq.

"Kerik was there at the time," McCain said. "Supposedly his mission was to help train Iraqi police. He stayed a couple of months and then up and left. That should have been a part of anybody’s judgment whether to recommend that individual to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security. His contribution to the training of the police and law enforcement people in Iraq, which was ostensibly why he was there, was less than successful."

UPDATE: This is now getting ugly.

McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis released the following statement.

"Rudy Giuliani’s history with Bernie Kerik is a story of poor judgment. After being briefed on Kerik’s ties to organized crime, Giuliani named him chief of the New York Police Department. Without any further vetting, Giuliani asked him to join his security consulting firm. Despite obvious ethical problems, Giuliani went so far as to personally recommend Kerik for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security."

"A president’s judgment matters and Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly placed personal loyalty over regard for the facts."

And the Giuliani campaign sends over this statement from communications director Katie Levinson in response to McCain seeking to secure a loan to bolster his cash-strapped campaign.

"Let me get this straight – first, campaign finance crusader John McCain oversees a campaign that spiraled completely out of control and went bankrupt and now he wants a questionable $3 million loan? Doesn’t quite pass the smell test, does it?

"Americans need someone in the White House who knows how to balance their own checkbook before they try to balance the federal government’s. They don’t need John McCain, they need Rudy Giuliani – who has actually balanced a budget and made a payroll."

In a separate and subsequent statement by Levinson, the Giuliani campaign communications director adds the following:

"Is this what desperation looks like? Bernie Kerik’s issues have been known since 2004 and John McCain still had glowing things to say about Rudy Giuliani and his leadership. What, exactly, changed today? Best as I can tell, it’s just John McCain’s pure desperation in the face of a failing and flailing campaign trumping his so-called straight talk. It is truly a shame that John McCain has chosen to stoop this low."

And to round out the day, McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker writes in the following statement. 

"The only person who broke the law is Rudy’s good friend Bernie Kerik.  And the only person who showed questionable judgment was the man pushed him to be Secretary of DHS, Rudy Giuliani."