Profile: Rudy Giuliani

Al Jazeera profiles the New York mayor turned Republican presidential candidate.

    Giuliani [centre, with Hillary Clinton] was praised
    for his leadership after September 11 [EPA]
    Of all the Republican candidates vying for their party's presidential nomination, perhaps only Rudolph Giuliani has global recognition.

    The mayor of New York City became a familiar face to millions in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 attacks, rallying the city's inhabitants after the devastating events of that day.

    Giuliani, currently favourite for the Republican nomination, is now hoping this recognition will propel him to the White House in 2008.

    However he is not without his detractors.

    Some political analysts have wondered whether Giuliani's private life, and at times rather dour demeanour, will prove problematic in a US political atmosphere that, paradoxically at times, craves both charisma and straightlaced conduct from its politicians.

    New York beginnings

    The Brooklyn-born only child of Italian immigrants, Giuliani once considered the priesthood, but opted instead first for law, joining the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1973.

    Giuliani rose through the ranks swiftly, heading up the office by 1983 and making his name in a series of successful - and high profile - cases against the city's infamous mafia.

    In 1993 Giuliani was elected mayor of New York City and made cutting crime the priority of his tenure. His campaign website boasts of enviable statistics - Giuliani's leadership, it claims, led to on overall crime reduction of 56 per cent while the city's appalling murder rate was slashed by 66 per cent.

    Some heavily criticised Giuliani for with some experts saying the much vaunted crime statistics were in fact due to demographic changes, and others pointing to an increase of police abuses.

    The most notorious was that of immigrant Amadou Diallo, shot more than 40 times by undercover New York police officer while he reached into his pocket to get his wallet to provide them his identification.

    The officers were later acquitted of his murder, sparking fury from human rights activists.

    Some also questioned whether Giuliani's aggressive policies to cut crime had led to abuses of power.

    However Giuliani has defended his policies, and in an interview with Fox News earlier this year he compared his efforts to target crime in the city to the troop surge in Iraq, arguing both had been successful.

    Tarnished image?

    Giuliani [with his third wife, Judy] has faced
    speculation over his private life [EPA]
    Giuliani also won praise - and high approval ratings - for his calm leadership following the New York attacks, vowing to rebuild the city.

    "I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country and the rest of the world that terrorism can't stop us," he said at the time.

    However this image has been somewhat tarnished in recent years.

    Some have criticised Giuliani for the money he has made from speeches about the New York attacks, accusing him of profiting politically from the disaster.

    His swift response - that he had spent as much time down at Ground Zero as many workers since diagnosed with medical issues - was met with outrage after an investigation by the New York Times newspaper revealed he spent a total of only 29 hours there in the first three months after the disaster. 

    He was also left embarrassed when his former police commissioner, ally and former homeland security chief nominee, Bernard Kerik, was charged with fraud.

    There have also been mutterings from several within the Republican party, that has long regarded itself as a bastion of family values, that Giuliani's private life prevents him from being an ideal candidate for the party.

    With three marriages and a reported estrangement from his own son, along with his more socially liberal stances towards gay marriage, immigration, gun control and abortion, he certainly does not fit the mould of a stereotypical Republican politician.

    Foreign policy

    They [Iran] are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism

    However Giuliani has developed a hawkish approach regarding the so-called war on terror, which may concern voters looking for a shift from the Bush administration's policies.

    Largely dismissive of the United Nations and frosty in his outlook towards China and Russia, describing them in a Foreign Affairs article as having shortsighted governments inimical to civil rights and democracy, Giuliani follows the Republican line.

    He remains relatively bullish on Iraq, stating on his campaign website that a withdrawal from Iraq would only embolden the US's enemies, and aggressive on continuing the so-called "war on terror" and expanding the US military, including the controversial deployment of the missile defence system.

    As for Osama Bin Laden, widely alleged to be behind the New York attacks, Giuliani acknowledged in an interview with the New York Times last month that his desire to see the al-Qaeda leader captured was "personal" and that he felt that Pakistan had not done enough to pursue him.

    "I don't know, below the surface ... about how much pressure is being put on them to crush al-Qaeda and crush the Taliban," he said. "I have the feeling ... that it isn't enough."

    At the third Republican presidential debate, Giuliani also confirmed an aggressive stance towards Iran over its nuclear programme.

    "They have to know it is unacceptable to the US that they have nuclear power [and]
    you shouldn't take any option off the table ... they are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism," he said.

    On the Middle East conflict, Giuliani has been described by one Israeli newspaper as the "best" candidate with Israel, for vowing to make no concessions to the Palestinians.

    He has insisted that a Palestinian state is not viable until the Palestinians establish good governance, end corruption, fight "terrorism" and live in peace with Israel.

    Should Giuliani win the Republican nomination, and Hillary Clinton do the same for the Democrats, he faces the possibility facing the Clinton machine for a second time, having run against her for New York senator in 1999.

    Giuliani was forced to withdraw following his diagnosis of prostrate cancer, from which he has since recovered.

    But if Giuliani were to snatch the election from her this time, his reward would be the US presidency.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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