Rudy Giuliani’s career is marked by an unusual mixture of popularity and controversy. Perceived as a bipartisan hero and “America’s Mayor” by some, divisive and harsh by others, Giuliani’s full-throated support of the War in Iraq and the Bush Administration’s anti-terror policies has made him a favorite with neoconservatives and pro-Iraq war voters. Despite his troubled private life and reputation for being moderate-to-liberal on social issues like gay rights and abortion, he remains popular even among many social conservatives.
Rudolph Giuliani was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1944, the only child of two second-generation Italian-Americans. Although his father had spent time in prison for robbery and other crimes, young Rudy pursued the opposite course, staying out of trouble and doing well in school. For a time, he considered a life in the Roman Catholic priesthood. Instead, he opted for a career in law.
During the seventies and eighties, Giuliani, a former Democrat who had voted for George McGovern in 1972, was appointed to a series of increasingly important legal posts in the Republican Ford and Reagan administrations. In his post as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Giuliani attracted nationwide attention for his convictions of white-collar criminals Marc Rich, Ivan Boesky, and Michael Milken. His fame grew when this son of a reputed one-time Mafia enforcer used the new RICO anti-racketeering laws to send eight top-ranking members of New York’s “Five Families” to prison. It was a huge blow to organized crime and an impressive win for U.S. law enforcement. Electoral politics beckoned.
Giuliani first ran for mayor of New York City in 1989. Running as a tough-on-crime political moderate, he narrowly lost a hotly contested race to liberal Democrat David Dinkins. By 1993, however, New York was suffering from a number of high profile racial incidents, crime remained a growing problem in the public mind, and dissatisfaction with Dinkins’ performance was high. This time, Giuliani’s message of change resonated just loudly enough for the Republican to win in the predominantly Democratic city.
Once in office, Mayor Giuliani made law enforcement a priority. Together with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, he advocated techniques drawn from the new “Broken Windows” theory of law enforcement, which held that reducing levels of vandalism and other minor crimes would lead to a reduction in all crime. Though arguments continue about the precise impact of Giuliani and Bratton’s crime-fighting policies, there is no doubt that the mid-nineties were a time of vast change in New York, symbolized by the transformation of seedy Times Square into a glitzy tourist destination. Despite the less than amicable departure of Commissioner Bratton two years into Giuliani’s tenure, Giuliani had won the hearts of most New Yorkers and handily won the election.
Things went less well in the second Giuliani Administration. A series of controversial police shootings sparked nationwide debate and a song by Bruce Springsteen. Meanwhile, Republicans were angered by the mayor’s decision to endorse incumbent liberal Democrat Governor Mario Cuomo over successful Republican challenger George Pataki. The mayor’s personal life also became tabloid fodder with an acrimonious divorce from his second wife and apparent extra-marital affairs. In 2000, he wound up moving-in for a time with a pair of openly gay friends. Late night comics found him an irresistible target.
The attacks of 9/11 changed that. The mayor emerged as a calming and morale-boosting figure in frightening times. Though firefighters and others now criticize Giuliani’s decisions in the wake of 9/11, at the time he was the subject of wide acclaim from both conservatives and liberals. Oprah Winfrey declared him “America’s mayor.”
After being succeeded by Michael Bloomberg in late 2001, Giuliani stayed in the public eye. He delivered a blistering address to the 2004 Republican National Convention, taking Democrats harshly to task, comparing President Bush to Winston Churchill, and advocating the neoconservative vision for the Middle East. No one was surprised when Giuliani threw his hat into the ring in early 1997.
Despite some early campaign stumbles and worries about his position on wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage, Giuliani’s name recognition and hard-edged personal style has made him the consistent leader among Republican presidential candidates on opinion polls. The only question is whether the thrice-married, relentlessly urban Giuliani can hold on to that lead in the face of opposition from candidates with more heartland-friendly images.
Rudy Giuliani on the Web
A lengthy and detailed biography of the former mayor.
The official web site of the Giuliani Campaign. Video of campaign commercials and links to television appearances and other media here.
Giuliani: Worse Than Bush
Left-leaning prankster Matt Taibbi’s anti-Rudy take.
Mayor of the World
Time’s magazine’s 2001 Person of the Year profile “Tough and smart, sure. But who knew about Rudy's big heart? Here's how a very human man taught us superhuman courage…”
The complete text of Rudy Giuliani’s speech before the 2004 Republican convention.
Giuliani at Iowa Town Hall Meeting
A supporter discusses Giuliani response to questions, with lengthy clips from Giuliani’s appearance.
Rudy Giuliani vs. Ron Paul
The famous exchange that bolstered both candidates’ campaigns, from the Fox News Debate.
Press roast clip
An infamous comedy bit featuring Mayor Giuliani and Donald Trump.
Rudy Giuliani on healthcare reform
At a campaign appearance, Giuliani stakes out an anti-government position.
More on healthcare
Giuliani explores his free-market position and discusses his prostate cancer.
On the Campaign Trail
Despite the entry of perceived conservative standard-bearer Fred Thompson into the race, Giuliani appears to be holding onto his lead.
There have been some early campaign stumbles. In particular, an answer to a debate question about Rowe vs. Wade made it sound as if Giuliani had no particularly strong views on the controversial decision, or the issue of abortion. On the other hand, a debate response to anti-war Republican Ron Paul drew cheers from the base for its heated rhetoric. Overall, Giuliani seems to be successful in his continued persuasion of conservative Republican primary voters that he is conservative enough, yet also the man most able to win in the general election.
The Quotable Rudy Giuliani
On the presidency:
“In choosing a president, we really don't choose a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or liberal. We choose a leader.”
On his support for the administration:
“On September 11, 2001, we thought we were going to be attacked many, many times between then and now. We haven't been. I believe we had a president who made the right decision at the right time... to put us on offense against terror.”
On the possibility of war with Iran:
“The use of military force against Iran would be very dangerous. It would be very provocative. The only thing worse would be Iran being a nuclear powers.”
On being chosen person of the year:
“I believe the people of the city of New York were selected as the people of the year, because of the very brave and heroic way in which they responded from the first moment to the worst attack on the United States ever in our history.”
On what voters want:
“I think they want real candidates who really tell people what they think, and are actually willing to lose rather than distort their position.”
Comments, questions and suggestions can be sent to Gerardo Orlando at firstname.lastname@example.org.