ABC News’ Jan Simmonds reports: ’08 Republican presidential candidate former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, D-N.Y., on Friday attempted to clarify comments he made equating himself with 9/11 recovery workers, some of whom facing health problems stemming from their work.
"I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers … 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," Giuliani told reporters in Cincinnati Thursday.
Giuliani’s comments angered the head of the the union of NYPD detectives, who told the AP that the Mayor’s record can’t compare to those who spent 12 months sifting through toxic debris for evidence and human remains.
Giuliani attempted to clarify his comments Friday morning, reiterating that he faces the same health risk as the 9/11 recovery workers.
"It is a major concern of mine, the health of the workers there at Ground Zero," Giuliani said on the Mike Gallagher syndicated radio show. "What I was trying to say yesterday is that I empathize with them because I feel like I have that same risk."
Giuliani said he should have expressed himself better.
"The way I said it, I probably could have said it better, but what I was trying to say was, I was there quite a bit, there are people that were there more than me, people that were [there] less than me. 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. And I think I could have said it better. You know, what I was saying was ‘I’m there with you.’"
Giuliani reiterated Friday that he, too, may get sick from the time he spent at Ground Zero following the attacks.
"I was there often enough so that every health consequence that people have suffered, I could also be suffering. People on my staff were there with me. Some of them weren’t there as often as I was and some of them have gotten sick already," he said.
"People who have been exposed to that risk down there are entitled to be taken care of. They’re entitled to get compensation. We should give them everything. I mean they are heroes in my estimation," Giuliani said, "and what I was trying to say was even those that were there less than me and the reality is that we’re all in this together and I’m there with them and I feel that I have the same concerns that they have."
Giuliani’s controversial comments may give fodder to those who have criticized his handling of the attacks on New York.
The former mayor has come under fire from first responders and relatives of those killed at the World Trade Center, who have said the former Mayor was unprepared for 9/11.
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) released a 13-minute video on the Internet in July, urging its members to oppose Giuliani’s bid for the presidency, questioning his leadership both before and in the aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.