Rudy Giuliani

Read a short biography of Rudy Giuliani, candidate for the 2008 republican presidential election nomination. Get your students involved in the political process by teaching them about the candidates.
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Candidate for the 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination

by Liz Olson
October 2007

Rudolph Giuliani

Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani hopes to use the international fame he gained for his forceful yet sympathetic response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to win the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

A lawyer, businessman, and politician born and bred in New York, Giuliani has not conformed to a tightly scripted campaign. Instead, he has delivered a different speech at almost every stop, adapting his address to appeal to both the audience and his mood. His constant theme, however, has been national security, and he often recounts his poised handling of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Giuliani’s liberal views on social issues, including abortion, immigration, gay rights, and gun control, have alienated him somewhat from the party’s conservative base.

New York Roots

Giuliani was born in 1944 to a working-class family in Brooklyn, New York. His family included police officers, firefighters, and criminals. His father, Harold Giuliani, served time in Sing Sing after being convicted of felony assault and robbery. After his release, Harold became a Mafia enforcer for his brother-in-law, who ran an organized crime operation in Brooklyn.

Giuliani never strayed far from his New York roots, graduating from Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Manhattan College, and New York University Law School.

Legal Career

Giuliani served as associate deputy attorney general in the Justice Department from 1975 to 1977, and as associate attorney general (the third-highest position in the Department of Justice) from 1981 to 1983. As U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District, a position he held from 1983 to 1989, Giuliani successfully prosecuted several high-profile Mafia leaders and Wall Street miscreants, including Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken. As the U.S. attorney, he tallied 4,152 convictions and 25 reversals.

During his time as U.S. attorney, Giuliani was criticized for overly zealous prosecution tactics, such as arranging public arrests of people and then dropping charges for lack of evidence. In 1987, Giuliani had three Wall street bankers handcuffed and arrested at their desks. When one of the charged, a banker, demanded an immediate trial, an unprepared Giuliani dismissed the case. He also garnered criticism for prosecuting cases to satisfy his political ambitions.

Changing Political Positions

At the start of his political career, Giuliani was a Democrat enamored with the Kennedy family. He volunteered for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968 and voted for George McGovern for president in 1972. In 1975, he switched his political registration from Democrat to Independent. Then in 1980, he registered as a Republican, after Ronald Reagan brought Republicans back into power in Washington. Some suggested he made the switch to land political positions in the Justice Department.

Mayor of New York

Giuliani first ran for mayor of New York in 1989, calling himself “a reformer.” He won the Republican Party primary election, but was defeated by Democrat David Dinkins in the general election—one of the closest races in the city’s history.

Giuliani ran for mayor again in 1993, in an election with crime and taxes as the major issues. He promised to reduce crime, reform welfare, and improve quality of life for New Yorkers. He won the election, becoming the first Republican mayor since 1965. With his popularity at its highest point—an approval rating of 68%—and the endorsement of all four daily New York newspapers, Giuliani was easily reelected in 1997, defeating Democrat Ruth Messinger.

Under his leadership, New York’s murder rate was cut by 66% and overall crime declined 56% in a city once considered the crime capital of the world. According to the FBI, New York became the safest large city in the U.S. Giuliani added cuts to welfare and taxes to his list of accomplishments.

September 11, 2007

Giuliani earned international acclaim in the aftermath of the September 11, 2007, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He was nicknamed “America’s Mayor” and made frequent television appearances, conveying the shock, sadness, and anger felt by most New Yorkers. He was named Time magazine “Person of the Year” in 2001, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. During a time of fear and uncertainty, he displayed calm and confidence.

Business Career

After serving two terms as the mayor of New York, Giuliani founded a security consulting business called Giuliani Partners LLC, which capitalized on Giuliani's name recognition and generated controversy over his staff and client base. He hired longtime associates, including former police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who was later convicted of corruption; Pasquale J. D'Amuro, a former FBI executive, who is accused of taking artifacts from Ground Zero; and a former Catholic priest who is accused of covering up sexual abuse in the church.

His clients included a security startup company called Seisint Inc., owned by Hank Asher—a close friend of Giuliani’s and a former cocaine smuggler. The company has earned more than $100 million over five years. In 2005, Giuliani joined a Texas-based law firm, which was renamed Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, upon his arrival there. The firm represents coal-fired power-plants that are among the worst emitters of pollutants associated with global warming. His work with Saudi Arabia and a smokeless tobacco company, UST, Inc., have earned him millions of dollars, as well as criticism.

Personal Controversy

Giuliani’s marital history and estrangement from his children may cost him votes. He has been married three times, was involved in an extra-marital affair, and has a strained relationship with his children.

Polls throughout 2007 showed that Giuliani’s popularity was steadily rising despite his turbulent personal life. Many Americans look to Rudy Giuliani as a proven strong leader who can overcome his ethically questionable business career and personal life to win the Republican presidential nomination.

Learn more about the 2008 Presidential Election.

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