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Giuliani 'not confident' war will turn around

Story Highlights

• Outcome of war up in the air, former New York mayor says
• U.S. cannot leave Iraq in its current condition, he adds
• Giuliani confirms he is a candidate for president
• Candidate sticks with positions on abortion, gay rights, gun control
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Former New York mayor and 2008 presidential contender Rudolph Giuliani said Wednesday he is not sure the tide will turn in the war in Iraq, as President Bush has said.

"I'm not confident it's all going to turn around," Giuliani told CNN's "Larry King Live." "Who knows that? I mean, you never know that in the middle of the war.

"I'm confident that we have to try to make a turnaround, and we just can't walk out, and that it is critical to us that things get to the point in Iraq that we have some degree of stability and not the way they are now," Giuliani continued. "Because if we leave it the way it is now and we run out, then we're going to face further difficulties in the future." (Watch Giuliani refuse to assign blame Video)

Earlier this month Giuliani, a Republican, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. In November he filed paperwork setting up an exploratory committee.

He confirmed it Wednesday, telling King, "Yes, I'm running. ... I think I can make a difference. I believe that the country needs leadership."

In a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 77 percent of those polled said they wanted to see Giuliani run for president.

In the same poll, conducted January 19-21, Giuliani led the list of potential Republican candidates, with 32 percent saying they would choose him.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona trailed Giuliani with 26 percent. Other candidates were in single digits.

However, Giuliani's positions favoring abortion rights, gay rights and gun control may not be well received by the more conservative elements of the Republican party.

King pointed out that Giuliani has said that if he won the presidency he would appoint judges who are strict constructionists and might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

"I don't know that," Giuliani replied. "You don't know that."

"I am pro-choice, yes," he said. "But I'm also, as you know, always have been, against abortion -- hate abortion, don't like it, wouldn't personally advise anyone to have an abortion.

"But I believe a woman has a right to choose, and you can't have criminal penalties. ... I think that would be wrong.

"I would select judges who try to interpret the Constitution rather than invent it," he said.

Giuliani also addressed gay rights and gun control.

"Gays should be protected. ... But the way I'm portrayed by my opponents -- and I guess to drive people away from me -- is that I'm in favor of gay marriage. I am not."

However, Giuliani said he does favor domestic-partnership laws for gay and lesbian couples.

And while he favors gun control, "I understand the Second Amendment," he said. "I understand the right to bear arms.

"I think that a lot of these things have to be resolved on a state-by-state basis," he said. "And I used to say also when I was the mayor, it's one thing for New York, it's something different for Texas."

Giuliani, 62, was mayor of New York from 1994 to 2002 and was widely credited with the city's revitalization during the 1990s, when crime dropped significantly and the economy boomed.

Giuliani's stock also rose in the public's eye during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Asked whether his relationship with his former aide, Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty last year to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts while working as New York's corrections commissioner, and his own divorce and personal life might be ammunition for his opponents, Giuliani said he expects it.

"They'll bring all of that up, and they'll probably bring up things that aren't even true," he said. "And they'll bring up things that are true and, I think, the way I deal with that is, hey, I'm a human being. I made mistakes. I'm not perfect. I keep trying to learn from them. ...

"There may be a perfect candidate in this race. I don't know which one that is. I wouldn't want to be the one that is the perfect candidate."

Rudolph Giuliani said he doesn't know if the Iraq war can be won, but the U.S. must not leave Iraq in its present condition.



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