From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CONCORD, N.H. -- As he announced the support of a group of New Hampshire first responders, McCain questioned Giuliani's judgment for having recommended Bernie Kerik as homeland security chief. And, he suggested that Kerik bears some responsibility for the failure of efforts to stabilize Iraq.
McCain recalled Kerik's role in training Iraqi security forces, alleging that he just "got up and left" after only a few months. "That should have been part of anybody's judgment before they would recommend that individual to be head of the Department of Homeland Security," McCain said. "Clearly, his contribution to training the police and law enforcement people in Iraq, which ostensibly was why he was there, was less than successful."
Later, speaking to reporters on board the Straight Talk Express, McCain called the effort to train security forces "a miserable failure." "It was a catastrophe, as a matter of fact. So obviously he had some role in that," he said.
Joining McCain today was the first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. At the Concord press conference, Ridge said he had "a pretty good idea" of the profile of responsibilities the job entailed. "Mayor Giuliani had a judgment that Bernie Kerik fit that profile," Ridge said. "All I would say is that Mayor Giuliani's judgment was different than mine."
On the bus, McCain also responded to Giuliani's suggestion that he was unconvinced that water boarding constituted torture. "It means he clearly doesn't understand the moral implications of torturing someone," McCain said.
*** UPDATE *** Randy Mastro, former deputy mayor to Giuliani, writes, "It's no fairer to judge Rudy Giuliani on the basis of this one issue than it would be to judge John McCain on the basis of the Keating 5 scandal."