The Job Giuliani Wanted More Than the Presidency

Giuliani admits he "made a mistake" but defends Kerik's "excellent results."

ByABC News
November 8, 2007, 5:32 PM

DUBUQUE, Iowa, Nov. 8, 2007— -- It's an odd situation for a man who made his name busting criminals. In Iowa today, Rudy Giuliani was repeatedly asked about the indictment of one of his proteges, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Kerik faces charges in a case brought by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York involving allegations of public corruption and a company suspected of ties to organized crime.

In a press conference today in Dubuque, Iowa, Giuliani told reporters, "I have made a mistake, I made a mistake in not clearing him effectively enough."

That this has emerged on the campaign trail for the GOP front-runner is no small irony, because Giuliani first made a public name for himself as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, one who aggressively -- and successfully -- prosecuted major cases involving public corruption and the mob.

And while Giuliani's six years as U.S. attorney in the 1980s were not without controversy, they are generally well-regarded. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Giuliani said he doesn't worry that the Kerik indictment will sully that reputation.

"I think that people are capable of looking at all of that and saying we have to judge that in the overall context of everything that I did," 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.'"

Giuliani even defended Kerik's performance as police commissioner.

"You know, people are complex," he said. "But the fact is that the results for the city of New York were excellent results."

When asked if he thinks highlighting those results diminishes or excuses the potential crimes Kerik committed, Giuliani said, "of course not.

"How about, it's realistic? It's the complexity of human life and the reality of human life," Giuliani said. "Richard Nixon had this very serious problem, but was his breakthrough with China one of the historic things that happened in the 20th century? Can't take that away from him --