By Meghashyam Mali - 05/10/12 12:16 PM EDT
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Thursday described President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage as a "political decision" and said the stance would undercut his campaign’s efforts to paint rival Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper.
"The president was for same-sex marriage before he was against it and now he's for it again. People forget that back in 1997, '98, when he ran for the state Senate in Illinois, he was in favor of same-sex marriage," said Giuliani on “CBS This Morning." "Then when he decided to run for the presidency he's against same-sex marriage, now he's for it.”
"It'll help with his base. I think it will hurt a little by showing the shifting positions that he'll take on a moral issue like this,” said Giuliani.
“It's only marginal. It depends on how’s this going to play in Ohio, how’s this going to play in North Carolina, how’s this going to play in the 10 states that matter.”
Obama became the first sitting president to voice support for allowing same-sex couples to legally marry on Wednesday.
“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said in an interview aired on ABC.
Giuliani charged that the president had always supported same-sex marriage but chose not to vocalize his position to further his political career.
"I think the president was always there, sure. I don't know if Joe Biden kind of forced him into it by making a mistake, which wouldn't be unusual for Joe Biden, or if it was a calculated trial balloon," he said.
“I believe his position when he ran for the Senate was the honest one, I think this is the honest one. In between he took a dishonest position because he didn’t believe he could get nominated,” he added later in the interview.
While Giuliani is now a Romney surrogate, the 2008 GOP presidential candidate has had harsh words for the party’s 2012 standard-bearer in the past, calling him “a man without a core,” and “a man that will say anything to become president of the United States.”
On Thursday, when asked about those earlier criticisms, Giuliani pivoted to target Obama.
“So now I just saw somebody who changed it even faster,” he said about the president. “I think President Obama doing this can moderate some of those criticisms of Mitt Romney, because it’s going to be very hard for the president to say ‘oh my goodness, Mitt Romney changed his position on pro-choice, pro-life,’ whereas he’s changed his position dramatically on gay rights going over a 10-year period.”
“It will be hard for Obama to criticize him as a shifter on positions, when this is a major shift.”
But Giuliani also cautioned Republicans against making the issue a centerpiece of their campaign to unseat Obama.
“Gov. Romney reflected that in his statement yesterday; he said this is a very sensitive issue. He didn’t talk about it in terms of what other people should believe, he talked about it in terms of what he believes. He said 'for me personally' ... he basically said 'I’m not going to make a big deal out of this' and I think that’s why Romney will be a good candidate,” Giuliani said.
“This is going to work for or against the president on its own; Republicans should stay the heck out of it,” he said.
Giuliani, who himself holds more centrist views on social issues, was asked if he was closer to the president’s position that that of his own party’s likely nominee.
"I'm in the middle," said Giuliani. While he supports domestic partnerships, Giuliani said he was "for marriage between a man and a woman."