From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:
SARASOTA, FLA. -- This doesn't happen as often as you'd think.
When Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani took the rare step onto our campaign bus to sit down, at length, and take questions from reporters who have covered him night and day for months, I had quite a few questions to ask.
But I decided to ask him about why he's let the media hound him for months over questions surrounding negative political and tabloid stories, rather than about his campaign message.
Playing devil's advocate, I wanted to know why he's let questions that feed bad press and eat away at his time on the stump and his national poll numbers? Wouldn't the old mayor have told us to stop the redundancy? Why didn't he tell us to just shut up and take a hike?
Giuliani's answer: Because you have the right to do so.
Here was our exchange.
CORSARO: Mayor, a few months ago people asked about your family, and you basically said 'back off'. Now they've been asking for the past month – and you've been kept out of the news cycle, or when you're in it – it's about Bernie Kerik and all of these negative things. Why haven't you had the same message lately? Maybe we would have it seen from the mayor before. Why haven't you just said 'Back off, I've answered that question?'"
GIULIANI: I have answered the question…
CORSARO: No, what, I'm saying is…
GIULIANI: Well because I think it's an appropriate question! You have a right to ask questions about who I appointed and who was good and who wasn't. You have an absolute right to ask that question.
I made a lot of appointments when I was United States Attorney, Associate Attorney General, Mayor of New York City. Most of them turned out to be really good appointments, and some of them turned out to be mistakes. You have a right to look at my mistakes.
CORSARO: But if people keep asking about it, why don't you just say I've answered it and move on…
GIULIANI: Because they're entitled to an answer about it. Because they're entitled to the answer that I give, which I believe is the right answer and the correct answer. You've got to look at my entire record. I have never run as a perfect candidate. I wasn't a perfect mayor. I just want to accomplish things that other ones didn't accomplish. And accomplished things that were very good and changed the city.
And I must have appointed mostly good people in order to bring down crime the way I did, bring down welfare the way I did, turn around the economy the way I did -- lift the hopes of New Yorkers and get us through September 11.
But did I make mistakes? Absolutely I did. And I think that's the right way to run. I think it's good for the American people to run as sort of an honest candidate, you know? "These are the mistakes that I made, evaluate them, look at the good things that I do."
I don't get offended by that question at all. You have the right to ask that question.