Concord, N.H. (AP) - Bernard Kerik did an irresponsible job training police in Iraq, presidential contender John McCain said Friday, adding to criticism of Kerik as Rudy Giuliani's former police commissioner surrendered to face charges in New York.
McCain cited Kerik's relationship with his Republican presidential foe as a reason to doubt Giuliani's judgment.
Giuliani's longtime associate, business partner and friend surrendered Friday to face federal corruption charges in New York, where he had been police commissioner when Giuliani was mayor. Kerik was also a failed nominee to head the Homeland Security Department, a post Giuliani recommended him for.
Giuliani told reporters during a campaign stop in Henderson, Nev.: "It's a sad day because Bernie Kerik was a hero police officer." Noting that Kerik had been under scrutiny since late 2004, Giuliani reiterated his position that he should have done a better job of vetting Kerik for the Homeland Security appointment and that he had apologized to President Bush.
Told of McCain's comments, Giuliani said, "I'd be very surprised if John did that. John is a good friend ..."
All these things were out there since December 2004, since then John has described me as a hero ... as someone he has tremendous respect for, as someone whose leadership after Sept. 11 was unparalleled."
McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, also pointed to Kerik's performance in Iraq, along with complaints about how Giuliani treated first-responders after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as reasons why the former mayor's presidential campaign should deserve greater scrutiny from voters.
Among Giuliani's other rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the indictment of Kerik "very sad and disappointing."
McCain, talking with reporters later Friday, alluded to his own ethical problems. He and four other senators were accused of trying to influence banking regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, a savings and loan financier later convicted of securities fraud. The Senate Ethics Committee cited McCain's "poor judgment" but recommended no further action against him.
McCain campaigned on Friday with Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania and the nation's first secretary of homeland security under Bush.
He said the situation reflected a fundamental misunderstanding by Giuliani of how the U.S. government works.
"We're not talking about some urban city patronage job," Ridge told The Associated Press. "That's not what a Cabinet secretary's about."
McCain on Friday was announcing support by a coalition of emergency "first responders," and he noted complaints by some about how New York treated its forces under Giuliani.
McCain said Giuliani's overall experience hasn't prepared him for the White House or to direct national security policy.
Associated Press writers Libby Quaid in Washington, Glen Johnson in Atkinson, N.H., and Kathleen Hennessey in Henderson, Nev., contributed to this report.