The transcript which Phil posted doesn’t exactly say what the question to McCain implied. Rudy starts by saying the circumstances and manner of the technique are important and he’s not going to be guided by liberal media news accounts to determine what techniques the military uses. ( The transcript shows the crowd applauded on that point.) Katie Levinson, Rudy Communications Director, responded to McCain’s comments with this: “John McCain is a true national hero whose service to our country is commendable and the Mayor considers him a good friend. That said, the Mayor’s comments were quite clear – the President of the United States must take action to protect our homeland from those seeking to do us harm.” She continued, explaining that Rudy had been responding to a question about Judge Mukasey’s testimony, “So we’re clear, when asked to
respond to comments made by Attorney General Mukasey, the Mayor said ‘We should not torture. America should not stand for torture, America should not allow torture. But America must engage in aggressive questioning of Islamic terrorists who are arrested or who are apprehended. Because if we don’t we leave ourselves open to significant attack. And the line between the two is very delicate and very difficult. But we can’t abandon aggressive questioning of people who are intent on coming here to kill us, or killing us overseas.'”
It is revealing in that the tone, I suspect, would certainly have been very different had the comment come from Romney or Thompson, whose jibes are often met with a swift back of the hand by the Rudy team. That said, McCain’s position on torture is not altogether popular with the GOP base so it likely doesn’t do much harm to Rudy to not be in sync with McCain on this.
UPDATE: On this last point one of the Powerline guys agrees