WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Wednesday that he welcomes attacks from the liberal organization MoveOn.org, and predicted that continued criticisms from the group will likely raise his standing among Republican primary voters.
“Frankly, I wish MoveOn.org would do several more commercials attacking me, because if they do it could get me nominated," Giuliani told CNN's John King in London. “They are not exactly the most popular group among Republicans.”
"They have spent $200 or $300 million assassinating the character of Republican candidates, and the fact that they want to personally attack me is probably a badge of honor for me, and probably is going to jump me five points in the Republican primary," he added.
The presidential hopeful has been highly critical of the organization for publishing an ad in the New York Times last week questioning Gen. David Petraeus’ trustworthiness in reporting the latest conditions in Iraq.
MoveOn responded to the criticism with a television advertisement in Iowa — and nationally on CNN — condemning Giuliani for dropping out of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group last year, and alleging he opted instead to hit the high-priced speaking circuit.
In the interview with CNN, Giuliani defended his decision to leave the group charged by Congress to assess the United State's Iraq policy, saying he would "have totally politicized it."
"The reason I didn't: I couldn't give the time to it, and secondly I knew that, ultimately, I could very well be running for president of the United States," Giuliani said. "[H]ad I stayed on that group, their report was put out just at the time I announced for president and it [would have been] totally politicized. It was a mistake to join in the first place."
In the wide-ranging interview, the former New York City Mayor also said that, as president, he will not hesitate to take action against Iran if the country acquires nuclear weapons.
"I think we should be clear that Iran is not going to be allowed to become a nuclear power," he said. "This idea of containment of Iran is too dangerous. Iran is already the biggest state sponsor of terrorism. They already are therefore handing off armaments and weapons to terrorists. [They are the] biggest supplier of it."
"America should be precise what it will do and what it wouldn't do," he added. "And the reality [is] we don't want them laboring under the misimpression that we wouldn't take action."
Giuliani also predicted that the United States would need to maintain a military commitment in the Middle East — including Iraq — for the "indefinite future," and said it was a mistake on the part of the Bush Administration not to increase the size of the military.
“We need a bigger military. We need a larger military,” he said. "This whole engagement in Iraq [and] Afghanistan has shown us that."
Giuliani also faulted Bush for cuts in the CIA's budget.
“The cuts that were made to our intelligence budgets were dramatic,” he said. "I think some of the CIA people described them as gutting the CIA. We've got to rebuild that."