Today, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said he misspoke when earlier in the week he said that he spent as much time, if not more at ground zero after 9/11, as the workers who are now facing illnesses caused by exposure to the site. On Thursday Giuliani told reporters, “I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.”

This statement led Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards to say, “Evidently, Rudy Giuliani has taken a break from reality. It is outrageous for Giuliani to suggest, in any way, shape or form, that he did more at ground zero or spent more time there than the brave first responders who worked tirelessly around the clock for many months during the rescue and recovery operation. It seems that Giuliani is determined to take every opportunity to exploit the memory of 9/11 for political gain, rather than honor the incredible sacrifices of our first responders. Enough is enough.”

Giuliani then backtracked on Friday. “What I was trying to say yesterday is that I empathize with them, because I feel like I have that same risk. There were people there less than me, people on my staff, who already have had serious health consequences, and they weren’t there as often as I was,” Giuliani said, “but I wasn’t trying to suggest a competition of any kind, which is the way it come across.” This explanation brought about even more criticism from police and fire officials.

In a statement, Edwards brought up some questions about 9/11 that he thought Giuliani should be answering. “Mayor Giuliani should start answering the serious questions of why firefighters and other first responders didn’t have proper equipment and support. The 9/11 Commission and National Institute of Standards & Technology reports have documented the failures of the broken radio communications system, a splintered chain of command and an unprepared Office of Emergency Management under his watch as mayor. These are the questions he needs to answer.”

The political reality at work here for Rudy Giuliani is that he is a moderate in a race where a majority of the party would rather have a conservative, and his strongest issue with the conservatives is 9/11. Every candidate stretches their accomplishments when running for president, and because of the long shadow of Fred Thompson, Giuliani has continued to exaggerate both his knowledge about terrorism and his role on 9/11, but this time Rudy took it too far. If you look beneath the flag waving of the Giuliani campaign, you will start to see that Edwards asks some very valid questions. If Giuliani is going to take credit, and paint himself as a hero on 9/11, then he must also take the blame for the things his administration didn’t do well.

Giuliani quotes

Edwards statement 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at


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