Giuliani in state, talks about ties to Kerik

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

MANALAPAN - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Saturday he should have done a better job investigating Bernard Kerik before recommending him to be the nation's Homeland Security secretary.

The former New York City mayor answered a series of questions about Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and former business partner of Giuliani. Kerik pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor of accepting a gift from a company seeking city work and is still under investigation.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Kerik rejected a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors pursuing multiple charges against him, most related to his failed bid for the Homeland Security secretary job.

"I think I should have done a better job of investigating him, vetting him,'' Giuliani said. "It's my responsibility, and I've learned from it.''

The GOP candidate faced renewed questioning on his former police commissioner this week after The New York Times reported Giuliani was warned Kerik had a relationship with a company with suspected ties to organized crime before his appoint- ment.

Giuliani repeated Saturday what he said in the testimony before a Bronx grand jury, which was reported by the Times. He said he did not remember being briefed about Kerik's ties to Interstate Industrial Corp., but that his former chief investigator recalled briefing him on Kerik's relationship with the company.

The company has denied having ties to organized crime.

Asked whether he thought people would question his judgment as a result, Giuliani said that people have a right to.

"They have a right to question everything about me,'' he said. "I've had a long career, maybe in some ways the longest and most complex of anyone running for president. That gives you some great successes and failures.''

Giuliani's comments came after he gave an address before the Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group interested in economic and other issues. He spoke for about 30 minutes and he also took questions during a closed-door session.

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