Giuliani asserted that "intensive questioning works. If I didn't use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of mafia guys running around New York right now and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is. Intensive question has to be used. Torture should not be used. The line between the two is a difficult one."
McCain had a frank and brutal response, telling an Iowa town-hall meeting that "when someone says water boarding is similar to harsh interrogation techniques used against the mafia in New York City, they do not have enough experience to lead our military."
Of particular issue to McCain was a comment Giuliani made in Davenport where he made light of sleep deprivation. "They talk about sleep deprivation," Giuliani joked. "I mean, on that theory, I'm getting tortured running for president of the United States. That's plain silly."
Standing on a stage of indignation McCain suggested that the next time Giuliani wants to make such a joke, he should call McCain's friend and fellow Vietnam veteran retired Marine Col. Orson Swindle "who was once chained to a stool for 10 days and then let off that stool for one day and then chained to the stool for 10 more days." Giuliani should ask Swindle "if there's any relation between running for president and what the ordeal that Col. Owen Swindle went through," McCain said.
Asked Saturday night about this debate between he and the former mayor, McCain said that none of this was personal — it was all about issues.
"Why do I feel so passionately about this torture issue?" McCain said. "It's because I think it's a hell of a lot more than torture. It's a commentary on what America is. … What kind of a country are we?"
When a reporter suggested that Giuliani didn't seem to understand the other side of the debate, McCain said, "In all due respect, it's kind of this macho thing, that, you know 'We gotta be really, you know, tough on terror, that's our image.'"
But McCain insisted that nothing had changed in the personal relationship between he and Giuliani.
"Oh no, no," he insisted.
For his part, even after he'd seen that McCain had in fact personally criticized Giuliani's recommendation of Kerik, the former mayor insisted that they were still friends.
"I will never attack John McCain personally, nor will I question his judgment," Giuliani said. "We can have differences on policies but I'd be very surprised if John would do that to me. We have been good friends. We respect each other."
Ron Claiborne, Bret Hovell and Jan Simmonds contributed to this report.