updated 3/19/2007 9:14:37 AM ET 2007-03-19T13:14:37

Rudy Giuliani is defending his law firm's role in representing Citgo Petroleum before the Texas legislature.

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Citgo is ultimately controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Republican presidential candidate says what the Houston firm is doing is "lawful and honorable." He says it's "helping to protect jobs for more than 100-thousand Americans."

Giuliani acknowledges his opponents will try to exploit the issue. But he says it "doesn't make any sense." The firm had a contract with Citgo before Giuliani joined it.

Giuliani was in Florida raising money at a New York Yankees spring training game. He discussed Chavez during the game, saying he's one of the reasons why the U.S. needs to develop alternative fuels and become energy independent. He said, "As the president I would make that my number-one priority."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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