(CNN) – A prominent, socially moderate Republican said Sunday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has achieved iconic status with the Republican Party’s conservative base, is an asset to the GOP.
“I think Sarah Palin is great for the Republican Party,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
Giuliani said Palin generates a lot of enthusiasm for the party which has struggled to define itself and identify its leading voices after the McCain-Palin ticket lost its White House bid a year ago.
“She gets a tremendous reception even here in Democratic New York,” Giuliani, who hosted Palin at a New York Yankees game, told CNN’s John King.
Anti-terror policy and politics dominated the Sunday conversation, with a crackling back and forth over whether the Obama administration made the right call in deciding to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9-11 conspirators on trial in a federal courthouse within walking distance of Ground Zero.
“We’re very confident about these cases, and we believe this is the appropriate thing to do,” top presidential adviser David Axelrod told us from Singapore, one of the stops on President Obama’s eight-day trip to Asia.
“I don’t know why you want to give terrorists’ advantages,” was the retort of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The Afghan troop deliberations and the endangered deadline to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were other major subplots in the feisty terror strategy divide.
Axelrod also weighed in on the question of how health care reform deals with abortion, making clear the White House would prefer language less restrictive than an amendment added to the House legislation.
“There are discussions, ongoing, as to how to adjust it accordingly,” Axelrod said.
Another frequent Sunday topic was “Going Rogue,” the Sarah Palin memoir due in bookstores Tuesday. The divide on this one was fairly predictable, and we looked not only at how it is playing in Washington but also back in Palin’s hometown of Wasilla.
Highlights of the Sound of Sunday, beginning with the debate over terror trials:
(CNN) – Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani strayed from the facts in discussing the discord within the Republican Party caused by the insurgent candidacy of Doug Hoffman, a Republican who chose to run on the Conservative Party ticket in the recent special election for New York’s 23rd congressional district.
Talking about the Bill Owens, the Democrat who won the special election, Giuliani erroneously said Owens had voted against the Democratically sponsored health care reform bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives.
Washington (CNN) - Fearlessly demonstrating the majesty of U.S. justice or acquiescing to terrorists by giving them undeserved rights and a public platform?
The decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, admitted mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and five other suspects to a New York courtroom, rather than a military tribunal, was described in stark contrasts Sunday by politicians on opposing sides of the political spectrum.
(CNN) – “Going Rogue,” the forthcoming memoir of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may already be a bestseller but the former Republican vice presidential nominee won’t be getting a royalty from one Democratic politico.
Instead of purchasing his own, Obama adviser David Axelrod tells CNN he will borrow the much anticipated book from another veteran of the Obama campaign.
“I think I’ll borrow [former Obama campaign manager David] Plouffe’s copy,” Axelrod said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “I don’t see why we both have to buy one.
“Once he’s done with it maybe he can summarize it for me or lend it to me and I’ll give it a look.”
Instead of bringing suspected mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects to Manhattan federal court, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says military tribunals are better suited to try those accused of terrorism.
“A military tribunal is certainly fair,” Giuliani said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “it’s a great example to the rest of the world. The tradition for over 150 years has been to use those military tribunals.”
Giuliani said that law enforcement officials had made a mistake in using civilian federal court to try those accused of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
“To treat the 1993 bombing as if it were just a criminal act – just one of the 1,973 murders in the city of New York that year – was a big mistake. So, basically the Obama administration is repeating the mistake of history. . . . It should’ve been treated as an act of war.
“And it’s part of a bigger picture here,” Giuliani told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “it’s part of Barack Obama deciding that we’re not at war with terrorism any longer. So this is not treated as if it was an act of war which is what it should be treated like.”
(CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the primary U.S. mission in Afghanistan is defeating al Qaeda, rather than making a long-term commitment to rebuild the country.
"We're not interested in staying in Afghanistan; we're not interested in any long-term presence there," Clinton told the NBC program "Meet the Press."
"We want to get al Qaeda, we want to disrupt, dismantle and defeat those who attacked us, and we want to be able to give the Afghans the tools that they need to be able to defend themselves," Clinton said.
On the ABC show "This Week," Clinton said she has "made it clear" the United States won't provide civilian aid to Afghan government agencies without an effective certification process that shows the money will be spent on its intended purposes.
Updated: 1:50 p.m.
(CNN) – A top adviser to President Barack Obama says Mitt Romney should hold his criticism until he knows what he’s talking about.
In a pre-taped interview for Sunday’s :“State of the Union” program on CNN, Obama senior advisor David Axelrod fired back at criticism by Romney that the president was taking too long to decide on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.
“I know that Gov. Romney has never had responsibility for any decision akin to this, so he just may not be familiar with all that it entails,” Axelrod said of the former Massachusetts governor.
Obama held his eighth meeting with his war council of senior Cabinet and Pentagon officials last week to further consider a request by his commanding general in Afghanistan to send up to 40,000 more troops to bolster the 68,000 already committed.
Axelrod called the deliberation process, which has lasted more than two months, a necessity when considering the lives of American troops involved and the enormous investment by the United States.
(CNN) – As Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to avoid a brewing intra-party battle over treatment of abortion in health care reform legislation, a top presidential adviser is reiterating that President Obama remains opposed to legislation that contains language preferred by more conservative Democrats in Congress.
In an effort ensure passage of the health care reform bill in the House, last week Speaker Nancy Pelosi permitted a group of approximately 40 anti-abortion Democrats to present an amendment that prohibits any insurance plan offered on a new health insurance exchange from offering coverage for abortion. The amendment is named after one of its sponsors, Bart Stupak of Michigan.
After the Stupak amendment passed with an assist from many House Republicans, more progressive, pro-abortion rights Democrats in the House and the Senate began organizing in an effort to eliminate the provision from the final version of the bill that will be voted on by both chambers and presented to President Obama for his signature. Abortion rights advocates regard the Stupak amendment as changing the status quo, a longstanding compromise between the two sides in the abortion debate. The compromise is best expressed through the Hyde amendment, a rider to an annual spending bill. The amendment, which is renewed every year, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion and has, for many years, prohibited the federal government from paying for abortions as part of the Medicaid program. But abortion rights activists say the Stupak amendment goes further, effectively prohibiting even individuals who are using their own money to buy coverage on the exchange from obtaining coverage for abortion.
In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Obama adviser David Axelrod reiterated the president’s position on how abortion should be handled in the debate over health care reform.
“The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress, that he doesn’t believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “He’s going to work with the Senate and the House to try to ensure that at the end of the day the status quo is not changed.”
Asked specifically whether the Stupak amendment changed the status quo, Axelrod replied “I think it’s fair to say the bill Congress passed does change the status quo. But I believe there are discussions ongoing as to how to change it accordingly.”
King asked Axelrod whether the president would sign a final health care bill that contains the Stupak amendment. Likening it to Obama’s position on the public health insurance, Axelrod said Obama “believes both these issues and can and will be worked through before [the final bill] reaches his desk.”