McCain and Romney Aides Hit Rudy on Kerik

Rudy Giuliani’s rivals are not at all satisfied with the former mayor’s dismissal of the newest twist in the Bernard Kerik scandal.Commenting on book publisher Judith Regan’s allegation that a senior executive at News Corp told her to lie to federal investigators about her affair with Kerik to protect Giuliani’s nomination of Kerik as homeland security secretary, one McCain aide said,

"Obviously there are some very serious charges involved for a guy who was his protégé and one of his closest friends. And for Rudy to go out and say this is not worthy of discussion when it directly involves him and his decision making, and in the case of department of homeland security, the security of our country – it’s disturbing that Rudy would think it’s not something he is going to have to address. "

Referring to remarks Tony Carbonetti recently made to me that there was no way Giuliani or any of his aides could have known about Kerik’s alleged crimes, the aide said, "That was shocking. It is just revisionist history. Rudy is the godfather to two of this guy’s kids–he is as close as you can get."

The aide also said that the Giuliani campaign’s sharp response to recent remarks by McCain showed how vulnerable he felt on the Kerik issue.

"They clearly came unhinged," said the aide. "What’s going to happen when the discussion turns to Rudy’s friend Msgr. Alan Placa?"

(Msgr. Alan J. Placa, a Long Island priest and lifelong friend and associate of Giuliani, has been accused of molesting teenagers, a charge Placa vehemently denies. Mr. Giuliani has consistently defended him.)

Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said the Regan twist only made the Kerik scandal more politically damaging.

"Voters grow very weary of story after story after story having to do with public officials who have not adhered to higher ethical standards," said Madden. "Right now it is very important to Republican primary voters that we have a candidate who can draw a very clear contrast between a Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton. If you have a nominee who is distracted by this type of narrative, you lose the ability to contrast yourself with Hillary Clinton and past Clinton administrations. It cancels out any advantage you would have."