Giuliani Says He'll Talk About His Family, But On His Terms

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - A day after urging people to "leave my family alone," Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Friday said he'll talk about his family - on his terms.

"Sure I will," Giuliani told reporters outside a cafe where he visited with voters. "But I'll talk about it appropriately, and in a way to preserve as much as I can the privacy of my family and my children, which I think any decent person would."

Giuliani asked again - as he did Thursday - that people judge him on his record as New York City mayor and a federal prosecutor.

"I think the best thing to do is to concentrate on the public things that I accomplished," he said. "Measure that, take a look at that, and then see how much do newspapers really have to probe into these things, or how much of it is being done really for reasons that have nothing to do with measuring public performance."

"And I think that's the only way in which we can kind of create an appropriate balance, given the kind of scrutiny that now goes on," Giuliani said.

On Thursday, Giuliani was asked by a voter in Derry, N.H., why he should expect loyalty from GOP voters when his children aren't backing him. His daughter has indicated support for Democrat Barack Obama, and his son has said he didn't speak to his father for some time. Giuliani and their mother, Donna Hanover, had a nasty and public divorce while Giuliani was New York's mayor, and he has since remarried.

"I love my family very, very much and will do anything for them. There are complexities in every family in America," Giuliani told the voter. "The best thing I can say is kind of, 'Leave my family alone, just like I'll leave your family alone."'

Giuliani also reiterated that his faith is private. Last week, asked in Iowa if he is a traditional, practicing Catholic, Giuliani insisted his faith should be private. Giuliani is at odds with church teaching because of his support for abortion rights and because he remarried without obtaining an annulment.

"I've talked about my faith, and even parts of that are personal," Giuliani said Friday.

Giuliani, a leading Republican candidate for president, was on a two-day swing through the early primary state of New Hampshire.

At a town hall meeting Friday in Merrimack, he argued for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private elementary and secondary schools, saying school choice works for the nation's colleges and universities.

People come from all over the world to attend college in the United States, Giuliani said at a town hall meeting in Merrimack, N.H.

"How is it that we have the best higher education in the world and a weaker K-through-12 system?" Giuliani said. "What's the difference? Why does one operate so well and the other not nearly as well? American higher education is based on a quintessential American principle - choice."

As mayor of New York, Giuliani backed vouchers for private and parochial schools in the face of opposition from his own schools chancellor. He changed his mind on the issue, after initially opposing vouchers, after becoming mayor of New York, and he also tried unsuccessfully to take control of New York public schools.

"I'd give parents control over their children's education," Giuliani told the audience of about 150 people at a solar power products plant. "We've got to have competition operating. If we don't do that, our education system is going to deteriorate."

Giuliani stressed his desire to have private forces shape the country's economy in education as well as in health care and Social Security. He said he supported President Bush's unsuccessful proposal to allow people to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private accounts.

"I would have preferred, over my lifetime, if I could have invested some of that Social Security money myself," said Giuliani, 63. "I think I would have done much better than the government did. I believe young people today, a lot of them feel that way. I think people who want a private option should be entitled to have it."

He said people who want traditional Social Security with no private accounts should be allowed to have that, too. And he allowed that the issue "is going to have to be compromised out" because Democrats who control Congress oppose it.

Also Friday, Giuliani reiterated his support for abortion rights: "I believe we should reduce abortion and increase adoption, but in a society in which we don't want government running people's lives ... we should keep the government out of it. We should allow the mother ultimately to make those kinds of decisions."