PETERBOROUGH, N.H. (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Sunday blasted Hillary Rodham Clinton for talking about what she would do on the diplomatic front between her possible election and inauguration.

Clinton has said she would send “distinguished Americans of both political parties to travel around the world on my behalf with a very simple message to the governments and the people alike: The era of cowboy diplomacy is over.”

Giuliani, pointing to a story in Sunday’s Des Moines Register about her statements, said such comments hurt the United States and undermine the balance of President Bush’s term, which ends Jan. 20, 2009.

“I think that it’s important that we conduct this debate in a way that we don’t interfere with the ability of the country to function in a proper way, between the now and (the election),” Giuliani said at the start of a town hall-style meeting in Peterborough.

Campaigning with his wife, Judith, the former New York mayor said Clinton should retract the statements and respect Bush’s responsibility.

“The president of the United States is president of the United States. He’s going to be president of the United States from now until the time a new president takes over. Until then, he’s the only one conducting foreign policy of this country,” Giuliani said. “We can have our political debate in this country. … But nobody should be creating the specter that we’re sending emissaries out around the world before someone is actually sworn in as president of the United States.

“I think it would be good for the country if Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton would correct that statement now,” Giuliani said.

A spokeswoman for Clinton said Giuliani missed the New York senator’s point.

“Senator Clinton and Mr. Giuliani have a fundamental disagreement. She will end the war in Iraq, reverse the Bush era cowboy diplomacy and restore America’s standing around the world,” said Kathleen Strand. “Mr. Giuliani wants to escalate the war in Iraq and supports President Bush’s failed foreign policy approach.”

Giuliani, who has shaped his campaign as a contest against his Democratic rivals and not his GOP peers, said Clinton should remember she first has to defeat a crowded primary field in her own party.

“Well, Hillary is not president-elect, last time I checked. We’re going to have something to say about that,” Giuliani said to laughter. “Hillary’s not even the nominee of her party. It’s very, very premature to be talking about sending ambassadors all around the world even before she becomes president to interfere with the foreign policy of the United States.”

Giuliani said there are too many dangers in the world to let Clinton’s comments go unchecked.

“The country is at war. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a war, because it’s far away. … We have the possibility of attack on America. We know that. It happened before,” said Giuliani, who was mayor during the Sept. 11 attacks.

AP-ES-10-28-07 1646EDT

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