Rudy Giuliani’s brief exchange with Ron Paul during the second Republican debate was a convenient change-of-subject for the perceived front-runner, and could be an indication of how the threat of terrorism will dominate the debate in the months to come. When the old-school Libertarian, Paul, blamed the attacks of 9-11 on US foreign policy Giuliani quickly retorted with what will, most likely, become the perpetual theme of his campaign. “That’s really an extraordinary statement,” Giuliani remarked. “That’s really an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11th, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I have ever heard that before and I have heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11th.”
The former mayor of New York City has been saddled with a past that may be too moderate for the rabid Republican base (the only constituency that matter in the primary).
His support for abortion rights, gay rights, and restrictions on gun ownership – not to mention his occasional cross-dressing – have presented him as a blue state liberal in conservative clothing. But Giuliani’s perceived steady and consistent approach to the “War on Terror” makes him an attractive candidate, despite his sketchy past.
We all applauded Rudy’s efforts on 9/11 when he braved the elements with our civil servants – a veritable superhero coming to the aid of a city in peril. But on Sept. 10th of that year Giuliani was not well liked even among his own NYC constituents. His “broken window” crime policies were very controversial; he was constantly at odds with the black community, and was at the center of a number of police brutality scandals. After his tenure was over, “America’s Mayor” started a multi-million dollar consulting firm. The company, whose clients are bound to confidentiality agreements, will most likely come under more intense scrutiny as the campaign unfolds.
So Giuliani’s status as a front-runner is questionable to say the least, but as long as candidates like Ron Paul waver and appear weak on terrorism, Rudy’s approval numbers will continue to impress. He consistently presents himself as the candidate who will keep you safe (despite the opposing facts or his unconvincing track record). Anyone who intends to win the 2008 presidency, Democratic or Republican, must convey themselves as a strong leader on this issue – just ask John Kerry.