Giuliani: Palin's Time as Mayor Qualifies Her

By: AP
By: AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Rudy Giuliani maintains that Sarah Palin is ready to lead the nation partly because she has managed a city, an argument that looks like comparing oranges to a Big Apple.

Take just the annual budget of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, where Palin was mayor. That budget this year is less than what New York City spent on just 80 new street sweepers for its Sanitation Department, for instance.

Ever since John McCain picked Palin as his running mate last week, Giuliani and other Republicans have been touting her experience as mayor of Wasilla, where she served her 6,000 constituents for two terms before ascending to the governor's office in 2006.

In an interview Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Giuliani was asked, "If she were the president on 9/11, you would have been confident?"

Giuliani responded: "I'd be confident that she'd be able to handle it. She's been a governor of a state, she's been mayor of a city."

It is a defense of Palin that grew to a crescendo on Wednesday in the hours before the Alaska governor was set to give a speech at the Republican National Convention.

"Sorry, Sen. Obama, if the city's not big enough for you," Giuliani cracked later in the day during a luncheon with the New York delegation at a Minneapolis hotel. "She was mayor for eight years of a city - I'll tell you one thing, when I was mayor of New York, sometimes I felt like I was mayor of a small town."

Everywhere he went, Giuliani added, a New Yorker would whine about problems like garbage collection and trees obstructing the sidewalk.

But the city known as the historic gateway to the New World has little in common with a town that grew up as the railroad gateway to a mining district.

Wasilla is 85 percent white, 5 percent American Indian, 4 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian and less than 1 percent black, according to 2000 Census figures. New York City is 43 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic, 25 percent black and 12 percent Asian.

The mayor of New York City oversees an emergency service force that includes 37,000 police officers and 11,000 firefighters, while the Wasilla mayor is responsible for 21 officers and doesn't have to worry about fire services.

The borough, which is like a county, handles that.

The borough also handles the school system, ambulance services and public transportation, mainly a fleet of 20 buses in the area.

But the Wasilla mayor does have to battle and negotiate with a City Council, just like Giuliani did for eight years.

A City Council of six, compared with New York City's 51.

But Palin balanced Wasilla's budget, Republicans say. Certainly New York City mayors know how hard that is - ever since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, they have been required by law to balance the budget.

This year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrestled to do just that, rolling over a surplus from last fiscal year and keeping spending flat. The city's total budget for this fiscal year? $59 billion.

Wasilla's budget is what New York City's eats for breakfast - $13 million in fiscal 2008.

As far as crime goes in Wasilla, there were no murders, 7 robberies and 4 rapes in 2005, the latest year for which state figures were available.

There were 7 murders, 460 robberies and 39 rapes in New York City. Last week.

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