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October 9, 2006
Did 9/11 Put Teflon On Rudy?

The New York Times, never one of Rudy Giuliani's fans, does a profile of the former mayor today that reports on an intriguing quality Giuliani seems to have gained after 9/11. His performance under fire appears to have forged a political suit of Teflon for Rudy, one that deflects a number of issues that would derail other candidates:

For many loyal Republicans — and more than a few independents and Democrats — his national security message seems to work, blotting out the central question facing his candidacy: whether a supporter of legal abortion, gay civil unions, immigrants’ rights and gun control; a thrice-married, Catholic New Yorker whose split with his second wife took place publicly and none too neatly, can win Republican presidential primaries and caucuses.

“I’m well to the right of Rudy on social issues,” said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Republican Party in Palm Beach County, Fla., after an appearance there by Mr. Giuliani two weeks ago. “But this is a man who, when it comes to dealing with bad guys, has infinite courage.”

In August, at a fund-raising dinner in Charleston for South Carolina’s very conservative Republican Party, Mr. Giuliani spoke about port security. When the party faithful had a chance to pose questions, they did not ask him about abortion or gays — only reporters did that.

Mr. Giuliani is never asked about recent charges that he, among others, did not do enough to protect rescue workers at the trade center site from inhaling toxic dust.

Nor is he asked about his friend, former police commissioner and former business partner, Mr. Kerik, whom President Bush nominated to be homeland security secretary in December 2004, with Mr. Giuliani’s support. Mr. Kerik withdrew his nomination as questions were raised about unpaid taxes involving his nanny, ties to people accused of involvement in organized crime, an illegal gift and an unreported loan. Just 19 months later, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors.

In a way, Richard Perez-Pena tries to make these quasi-scandals stick while reporting that they won't. He goes into detail about Kerik, for instance, even though Giuliani has nothing to do with the allegations Kerik faces now. He details the policy stands that put Giuliani at odds with the Republican base. He also recounts the mayor's messy personal life, something that would normally turn off the religious voters that the GOP needs to win nationally.

However, all of these issues have already received wide notice, and yet Giuliani remains popular. That certainly has something to do with the fact that Giuliani has not campaigned for office since 9/11, but there's more to it than that. It might have some parallel with -- bear with me -- the national college football championship. When teams suffer a loss early, they can still contend for the championship, because the voters tend to focus on what the teams have done lately. Giuliani's faults and dissents have been well known for years, and we're not likely to hear anything new on the negative side.

It also may have some basis in the threats we face today. We had hoped, in vain, that domestic politics might gain some maturity after 9/11. In that we have been disappointed, but Giuliani represents at once that hope and that potential. Given the terrorist threat and the menace from North Korea and Iran, we clearly need someone with significant toughness in the Oval Office. Of all the potential candidates in the ring thus far, how many honestly project that kind of toughness that would create confidence in them as a wartime president?

I'm not sold on Rudy -- yet. I especially mistrust him on the Second Amendment. After today's nuclear test and five years of fighting terrorists, though, I'm hard pressed to see anyone on either side of the aisle that has Rudy's toughness and resolve. In 2008, that may trump all other considerations.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 9, 2006 6:54 AM

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» Rudy Giuliani Watch: Will 9/11 Role Lead to GOP Presidential Nomination? from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Rudolph W. Giuliani, center, former mayor of New York City, with a Republican Senate candidate, Mike Bouchard, behind Mr. Giuliani, in Detroit last week. New York Times: With Giuliani, G.O.P. Focuses on 9/11 Role And who would you rather have DEAL wit... [Read More]

Tracked on October 9, 2006 8:20 AM


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