Citing what he sees as a need to check the "leftward leaning" administration and Congress in Washington, D.C., former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani endorsed businessman Richard Hanna on Wednesday in his run for the 24th Congressional District seat. It is held by two-term Democratic Congressman Michael Arcuri, who is running for re-election in November.
Giuliani, a Republican, came to the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown with Hanna and state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, to state his case.
"He's running for all the right reasons," Giuliani said.
This includes keeping taxes low and encouraging business, he said.
"He has an independent streak we need," he said of Hanna.
While there were about six media representatives at the Cooperstown event, Giuliani and Hanna appeared at a much larger gathering at a Utica Hotel earlier in the day.
"I didn't seek out any endorsement," Hanna, a Barneveld businessman and former Otsego County resident said, but he met Giuliani through a mutual friend and somehow it just happened, he said.
"I'm my own person, but I'm happy to be endorsed by someone I respect," he said.
In response to a question, Hanna said that his fiscally conservative approach to government might appeal to members of the Tea Party political movement, but the same could be true of Democrats and Republicans, he said.
"I have the same message for everyone," he said.
He has not spoken with Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, so he could not comment about any possible endorsement in his race against Democratic candidate Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Hanna narrowly lost a challenge against Arcuri two years ago. He is running again, he said, because he
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wants to do something about the growing budget deficit. With two young children, "it's my responsibility" to act so they will have the same opportunities growing up that he did, he said.
The growth of government is not compatible with efforts to provide a social safety net in the current economy, he said. The way to do that is through the growth of the private sector, he said.
"Too many people are in the cart and not enough people are pushing," he said.
He understands that people are suffering in the current downturn, but "we need to create an environment for jobs and opportunity," he said.
Programs like Social Security and Medicaid have prevented this downturn from being as severe as the Great Depression, he said. But with all the deficit spending in this country, "we are killing the (golden) goose."
"People are looking for principled leadership," something Arcuri does not provide, Hanna said. Arcuri's voting record indicates that he is more interested in being re-elected than in serving the people in his district, he said,
In response to a question, Giuliani said his advice to Hanna in the race would be to do exactly what he is doing.
"He's not going to change himself," Giuliani said. "He believes in the private sector as a place to grow jobs." Hanna has got the "right message," Giuliani said, something that people will get to know as the campaign continues.
Giuliani said he was supporting candidates like Hanna as a way to restore the system of checks and balances in the government.
He said several times that by electing such legislators, people can put a check on the policies of House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama, both Democrats.
Giuliani said that he will be contributing money to the campaign of Hanna and others who he endorses. He will be back to help the campaign if needed, he said.
When contacted Wednesday evening for comment on the endorsement, Arcuri said he didn't think it would mean a lot in the election.
"We have a pretty sophisticated electorate that will look at what we stand for," he said.
Despite Hanna's comments, "I've taken some tough votes," for the people in his district, Arcuri said. This includes voting against his party on health care reform and voting for the bailout of the financial institutions under President George Bush, which he said was necessary to save the economy.
"I think he should stand up and run against Mike Arcuri" and not the Democratic Party, Arcuri said.
"It's all rhetoric," he said of Hanna's claims against him. "He is not talking about specifics," he said. "I'm a Blue Dog Democrat (a group of conservative-leaning Democrats in the House of Representatives) trying to work with people on both sides of the aisle," to create jobs, Arcuri said.