Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined Republican Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez Thursday on a walking tour of Boylston Street and visited the memorial for marathon bombing victims, praising the former Navy SEAL as a candidate who can be trusted on national security.
“This is a man who’s willing to give his life for his country and he’s demonstrated that,’’ Giuliani said.
Giuliani, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008, praised political leaders’ handling of the marathon bombings, but he had harsh words for Gomez’s Democratic opponent in the US Senate special election. He noted that US Representative Edward J. Markey voted against a resolution honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Markey has said that he voted eight other times to honor the victims of 9/11 attacks, but that he opposed two particular resolutions because the wording politicized the tragedy, in one case by linking it to the war in Iraq, and in the other, to the Patriot Act.
“You don’t think I resent the fact that Ed Markey voted against honoring the people who died on Sept. 11th, because the word ‘Iraq’ was in that resolution?’’ said Giuliani.
The Markey campaign pointed out the experience the longtime lawmaker has on national security, noting that he’s a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and that he recently led bipartisan efforts to persuade the Transportation Safety Administration to reverse its decision allowing small knives on planes. He also co-authored legislation requiring better screening of cargo at airports and ports after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But when asked about Markey’s efforts on national security, Giuliani scoffed: “You’ve got to be kidding me? Ed Markey is safe for national security? The man who wants to release people from Gitmo?…He wants to bring these terrorist murderers out of Gitmo and bring them to the US? That’s safe for national security?’’
He was referring to the president’s proposed closure of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, where detainees believed to be terrorists have been held for years without being criminally charged or tried.
Both men were also asked about the latest controversy to strike the Obama administration: the report on Wednesday that the National Security Agency has been collecting phone records from millions of Verizon customers, giving rises to charges that the government has spying on regular citizens. Later in the day, the Washington Post published a story saying the federal government tapped directly into servers of major US Internet companies.
Gomez was twice asked about the latest controversy in security, but was unable to comment on it, saying he had not yet heard the details.
“It’s got to be, obviously, extremely serious,’’ Gomez told reporters. “It could be an imminent threat or something. But I have no idea why they requested the information.’’
At a press conference following their visit, Gomez reversed a statement he’d made at a debate the night before, when he’d embraced a 24-hour waiting period for abortions. Though many individual states have waiting periods, the delay would mark a significant change to abortion policy nationally. Gomez said repeatedly in the debate that he does not want to change the law on abortion.
In response to a reporter’s question, Gomez said he had given a “personal opinion’’ on the issue at the debate.
“That’s a states issue,’’ he said. “But if it came up to a federal or the Senate would vote on it, I would not vote for that. And like I said before, I’m not going to spend a single minute of any day changing the law on abortion. I couldn’t be more clear.’’
Giuliani rushed to his defense, saying Democrats were bringing up the issue of abortion as a distraction. “Is that an issue in this campaign?’’ Giuliani said. “We’ve got much bigger issues like our economy, like the state of our national defense, like what happened in Benghazi, what the heck’s going to happen in Syria.’’
The Markey campaign has been trying to tie Gomez to the national Republican party that proved so unpopular in Massachusetts in the last election cycle. As such, spokeswoman Giselle Barry welcomed Giuliani’s visit.
“Gabriel Gomez can bring in as many national Republicans as he wants between now and election day,’’ she said. “And it will only reinforce the fact that he embraces the national Republican agenda to block commonsense gun laws, protect tax breaks for billionaires, and end a woman’s right to choose.’’