Giuliani plays up support from televangelist

Speaking Thursday night in Las Vegas, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani touted his recent endorsement by televangelist Pat Robertson.

The two share a belief that fighting the "Islamic terrorist threat" must be the next president's first priority, the former New York mayor said. Robertson also believes that the biggest domestic problem facing the United States is excessive government spending. The two also see eye to eye on the importance of appointing conservative judges.

The endorsement Wednesday has surprised many in the political world, as Giuliani's positions on social issues are anathema to many religious conservatives.

Giuliani was at The Venetian on the Strip addressing about 200 people at the annual dinner of Keystone Corp., a political action group made up of Nevada business leaders.

Giuliani said the "threat of Islamic terrorism" was "something that we just have to face and be realistic about, and the reality is that many of the Democrats are not being realistic."

He accused Democratic candidates of not being able to utter the phrase "Islamic terrorism" for fear of appearing politically incorrect.

"I'm not suggesting that any religion is bad," he said. "We're intelligent enough to understand that. We're intelligent enough to make that distinction and not turn it into some kind of prejudice."

Giuliani said it was better to err on the side of caution. "This country has never, ever, I believe, gotten in trouble by exaggerating a threat," he said. "We've gotten ourselves more into trouble when we underestimate a threat."

The Democrats, he said, are exhibiting an "almost embarrassing" eagerness to negotiate with America's enemies.

After his 15-minute speech, Giuliani took questions about education, guns, the inheritance tax and immigration.

Giuliani, who as mayor fought for gun control, said he supports the Second Amendment as giving people "the individual right to bear arms" and would appoint judges who believe that.

State and local governments do have the right to place restrictions on gun ownership, he said, but if the restrictions are excessive, responsible judges will declare them unconstitutional.

Giuliani also advocated rights for illegal immigrants while mayor. He said he would flat-out "end illegal immigration," but he went out of his way to praise immigrants and emphasize that more people should be allowed to enter the United States legally.

Immigrants he said, invigorate society. "Sometimes Americans who are here too long tend to become cynical about the American dream," he said. "New people coming in have this wonderful belief that they or their children can go to the moon."

Contact reporter Molly Ball at or (702) 383-2919.