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Kerik may be thorn anew for Giuliani

Newsday

Bernard Kerik hadn’t even been indicted when the Democratic National Committee hit “send” on a blistering e-mail Thursday that questioned GOP presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani’s relationship with the disgraced former police commissioner.

As news broke of Kerik’s likely indictment and arraignment today on federal charges, political analysts and former campaign strategists predicted that although Republicans might tread lightly on the issue, Democrats are likely to seize on the Kerik connection to undercut Giuliani’s central campaign themes, leadership and security.

“The Kerik indictment has the potential to be somewhat of a catalytic moment in the campaign,” Democratic strategist Jenny Backus said. The indictment of Giuliani’s former top cop “goes at his greatest strength and raises questions about it,” she said.

Kerik is expected to be indicted on corruption and tax evasion charges, accused of allowing mob-connected builders to renovate his apartment while they were seeking city contracts.

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In 2004, President Bush nominated Kerik for the post of Homeland Security chief on Giuliani’s recommendation. Kerik withdrew his name after questions were raised about his past.

Giuliani told ABC News on Thursday he made a “mistake” by not sufficiently checking Kerik’s background, and he compared Kerik to former President Nixon, with triumphs and flaws.

Nevertheless, Giuliani said, if voters look at his record as New York mayor, they will “say to themselves that if he makes the same balance of right decisions and incorrect decisions as president, the country will be in pretty good shape.”

Kerik’s indictment raises the prospect of an ongoing criminal trial while Giuliani is campaigning for president.


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