Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rudy's Honeymoon Over?

As Rudy Giuliani was rising in GOP primary polling and John McCain was free-falling, Rudy was garnering mostly positive coverage from the news media. After Rudy's son Andrew gave an interview to the NY Times last week in which he said he was "estranged" from his father because of the way Rudy treated Andrew's mother (Rudy's second ex-wife, Donna Hanover) during their divorce, that all changed. For the past few days, the Giuliani campaign has been dealing with the fall-out from Andrew's interview and trying to make Rudy's messy personal life off-limits in the campaign coverage. Their efforts do not seem to be working:

Republican strategists say Giuliani's troubled family relationships are likely to hinder his standing among conservatives who already have questions about his positions on social issues. They say the estrangement could raise a question in voters' minds: If Giuliani can't keep his family together, how will he keep the country together?

In fact, Giuliani's support for abortion and gay rights, his backing of gun control measures and his very New Yorkness already had given conservatives pause about his candidacy. He has also marched in gay pride parades, dressed up in drag and lived temporarily with a gay couple and their Shih Tzu.

Then came the stories about his family.

''There's obviously a little problem that exists between me and his wife,'' Andrew Giuliani, a 21-year-old student at Duke University, recently told The New York Times.

Standing outside the Los Angeles County sheriff's headquarters on Monday, the former New York mayor faced questions about the estrangement from his son Andrew.

''The more privacy I can have for my family, the better we are going to be able to deal with all these difficulties,'' he said.

America was getting a look at what New York tabloid readers were familiar with from the pre-Sept. 11 world, when Giuliani's planned 2000 Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton fell apart in the face of his prostate cancer and the messy and very public breakup of his marriage to TV personality Donna Hanover.

Judith Nathan was the other woman back then and subsequently became Giuliani's third wife and stepmother to the two Giuliani-Hanover children, Andrew and Christine. Giuliani's first marriage to his second cousin, Regina Peruggi, ended after 14 years in divorce and later an annulment.

That may not wash with today's Republican Party, where religious conservatives hold greater sway than in Reagan's day, said political scientist Gerald Benjamin.

''The mobilization of the Christian right is a movement of contemporary Republican politics,'' said Benjamin, dean of liberal arts and sciences at the State University of New York's New Paltz campus. ''It makes more of a difference now.''

There is another difference.

''Ronald Reagan had a wealth of conservative support based on his record and that made conservative Republicans look beyond any issues with his kids and his divorce,'' said GOP strategist Nelson Warfield. ''Giuliani doesn't bring a wealth of conservative support to the equation.''

Independent pollster Lee Miringoff said Giuliani's request for privacy is unlikely to be heeded given that private lives have become fair game in politics. ''It's become a fact of life,'' said Miringoff, head of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion.

For Giuliani, the family flap came at a bad time. He had surged to the front of the GOP pack, pulling ahead of Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

''He's probably the most famous, least known candidate for president we've had in a long time,'' said Warfield. ''This exposes a side of Giuliani most voters would have no idea about.''

Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land, for example, described Giuliani's breakup with Hanover as ''divorce on steroids.'' Hanover learned her husband was seeking a divorce from television after he announced the decision at a press conference.

''To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children -- that's rough,'' said Land. ''I think that's going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren't pro-choice and pro-gun control.''

Last week I wrote that I believe as voters outside of New York learn more about Rudy Giuliani, they will like him less:

Giuliani does so well on name recognition alone. Most people outside of New York have no idea what the guy stands for, no idea how sleazy he has been in both his personal and business lives, and no idea what a complete asshole he is.

When Republican primary voters find out he has been married three times, has committed adultery with at least three different women (cheated on first wife with soon-to-be second wife Donna Hanover; cheated on Donna Hanover with Communications Director Christine Lategano; cheated on Donna with soon-to-be third wife Judi Nathan;), went to court to get an order that allowed him to bring his mistress home to the same house where his estranged second wife and kids lived so he could schtup her, moved in with two gay men after his second wife threw him out of the house for cheating on her, and is estranged from his kids because of his maritial difficulties, I believe conservatives will be less open to a Rudy nomination.

That process seems to be happening now.

It's about time.

UPDATE: The Politico reports that Giuliani's Republican primary opponents say Rudy's time to be scrutinized closely for his political positions and his messy personal life is coming:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has entered the presidential race with a head of steam, thanks to a remarkably positive public image among most Americans due to his performance in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But his opponents say Giuliani will eventually be weighed down as GOP voters take a more comprehensive look at his record and character – and operatives for rival campaigns are making plans to give Giuliani a proper introduction to rough-and-tumble national politics

Soon, Giuliani opponents say, it will be Rudy’s turn.


If Giuliani’s impressive poll numbers continue, opponents will undoubtedly zero in on his potential vulnerabilities: a soap opera of a personal life, questionable business ties, a hard-charging governing style that did not suffer critics lightly and apostasy on core conservative orthodoxy.

“When you’re running for president, there is always a ‘but,’” noted a Romney adviser. “When you start looking to Rudy’s but’s” -- issues, family life, former clients – “there’s lots of buts.”

“The key is,the press maketh and the press taketh away,” said the Romney partisan. “If you took a stack of clips on our side, [Romney’s] probably the guy whose suffered the most heat over the past three months.” But that’s starting to change, this person said, and soon enough “it will be Rudy’s turn.”

“In about three months or so,” the adviser predicted, “we’ll look back on the story on his son as the beginning of a change.”


Giuliani’s descent, said an adviser to a rival GOP campaign, will begin when “he ceases to be a celebrity and starts to be more of a regular candidate.”


in the early stages of the campaign, Giuliani has not yet had to play defense to any significant degree about his past actions, present views and vision for the future.

“His campaign has done a good job of keeping him scripted,” a supporter of another GOP candidate conceded. “He’s going to events that play to his strengths. Getting a bagel in West Palm Beach is not a tough lift.”

The early coverage, a McCain aide added, has been dominated by “tactical and process stories.”

“There hasn’t been room for ideological debate and Rudy has not been in a position where he’s really had to talk about anything substantive.”

Charlie Black, a GOP campaign veteran backing McCain, offered praise for Giuliani’s early campaign but said that the true test will come later.

“The fall is really when the people in the early states start to focus,” Black argued. Giuliani could well remain ahead in polling through the summer and into autumn, Black said, but more important will be the end of 2007 when voters in those key early contests have tuned in and learned about the policy positions of the candidates.

“I’d want to look at polls around the middle of November in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

I'd agree with the Romney adviser. Let's see where Rudy is in three months after the stories about his screwed-up family life, his numerous adulterous affairs, his close personal and business relationships with convicted criminal/former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik, and his past actions as asshole-in-chief in New York City come to light.

As a side note, I can't wait to see some of the tapes of the contentious press conferences Rudy had at City Hall where he called reporters "idiots" and worse or the tapes of his WABC radio show where Rudy treated callers with disdain and scorn come to light.

Let's see how that stuff plays in Peoria.

Remember the Rove/GOP meme that John Kerry shouldn't be president because he had an anger/temperament problem?

Well, Rudy REALLY DOES HAVE an anger/temperament problem.


Two brief interrelated thoughts prompted by your last 2 postings and Kicksiron's comment.

We live in the information age in which the smallest peccadillo cannot be concealed and once discovered, speeds around the globe via the internet almost instantaneously.

People, men in particular, sometimes have diffculties keeping their pants on. Whereas I do not promote marital infidelity, people engage in it. (I almost said: "it happens" but thanks to Kicksiron, I changed my phraseology.) Speaking for myself, I tend to trust people who stray sexually more than people who lead lives of regimented rigidity and who preach the same.

In a previous age, perhaps Giuliani's shabby treatment of his mates would not make headlines and therefore not matter.

Social conservatives don't get it yet. The lesson is still too subtle. If you vote for perceived morality as the benchmark, the best for which you can hope is a George W. Bush who sinned--not sexually but w/ drugs and alcohol--and who is not a very smart guy and who is an ideologue. His sins in office were those of promoting his ideology to the exclusion of reality. (By all means read Rajiv's Chandrasekaran's book about the reconstruction of Iraq for a narrative of the failure the installation of ideology.)

The fundamentalists and social conservatives simply do not understand this point.

Our presidents and presidential candidates since 1976 mostly have been governors. It's hard to screw up too badly as a governor unless you fail to keep your pants on. If you have no record there isn't much to question.

It's a long way to the conventions. Look for Mike Huckabee to prevail in the GOP. Look for Bill Richardson in the Dems.

I am already weary of Barack and Hillary. The former is unqualified while the latter personifies consuming political ambition. I would sooner vote for Lady MacBeth.

As for young Guiliani, he is young and the offense he has taken may be justified. I will remind him though that he only has one father.
I agree w/ you about Huckabee's chances, kid. But Richardson is rumored to have a "hands" problem with women.
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