DUBUQUE, Iowa, Nov. 8, 2007 — -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani said he "made a mistake" by not vetting his former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, indicted Thursday in a public corruption case. Giuliani also said he wouldn't contribute to Kerik's legal defense fund because it "wouldn't be appropriate."
But Giuliani also said the experience would make him a better president, defended the job Kerik did as police commissioner and compared his former protégé to the late President Richard Nixon -- a man with both flaws and accomplishments.
The former New York mayor said that Kerik's indictment does not sully his mayoral record.
"You have to judge that in the overall context in everything that I did, and how many right decisions did I make and how many wrong decisions did I make," he said. "And the balance is very much in favor of -- I must have been making the right decisions if the city of New York turned around. If crime went down by 60 percent, if homicide went down by 70 percent."
"I made mistakes when I was the mayor, and I make mistakes as a candidate, I will make mistakes as a president," Giuliani said.
"The question is do I make a lot more correct decisions than I make wrong ones? And do I recognize the wrong ones that I make as soon as I can and try to change? And in that particular case, the mistake that I made was I should have checked it more carefully. I didn't and I realized that after it happened, and I admitted it and I apologized for it and I'm never going to do it again. We're going to be much more careful in the future."