Giuliani says primary takes in-depth look at issues

MANCHESTER -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani just wants to have a conversation.

Before campaigning with New Hampshire Republicans on Friday, Giuliani said the crush of attack ads and sound bites leading up to next week's midterm elections should remind voters of the importance of the New Hampshire primary, where retail politicking forces candidates to speak directly to the public, at length.

"We're becoming more and more of a sound bite society. If we become too much of a sound bite society, the whole country's going to suffer from attention deficit disorder," he said in an address to Victory N.H., a group trying to preserve the state's traditional role in picking presidents.

"If all we become are people who can only stand listening to a 30-second description of an enormously complex problem ... then our level of intelligence is going to diminish," he said.

To prevent that, he said politicians and residents need to spend more time really talking to each other about the nation's problems. That happens in New Hampshire, he said, and it is one reason the New Hampshire primary should remain first.

"We need to talk, sometimes in depth and at great length," said Giuliani.

"The problem of immigration does not get solved by a sound bite. The problem of Social Security does not get solved by a sound bite. The problem of the war on terrorism does not get solved by a sound bite.

"These are some of the big issues that face us. They require in depth discussion," he said. "To the extent to which the New Hampshire primary can provide that, you are doing a really valuable thing."

Democrats, driven by worries that predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative of the nation's population and the party's key constituencies, voted last summer to squeeze the Nevada caucus between Iowa's leadoff caucus and the New Hampshire primary in 2008.

But Giuliani, who said he will decide early next winter whether he will run for president, defended New Hampshire, saying "it takes some of the spin out of politics." He also said the state provides a historical context against which candidates can be compared.

Though he planned to spend the rest of the day stumping for Republican candidates, Giuliani said the two parties need to compromise more and tone down their partisan attacks.

"We need to stop pretending we hate each other," he said. "We really don't hate each other. We disagree with each other."

"We have to figure out how to work together," he said. "Maybe it's a bad time to be talking about that, a few days before an election. Everyone's going to exaggerate everything over the next four days ... but when the day is over, on Nov. 8, we've got to return to the spirit of 'We're all Americans.'"