His Honor Rudolph Giuliani
[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
JIM LEHRER: It’s primary day in New York City with a most prominent name not on the ballot. That’s because Rudolph Giuliani cannot run for a third term as mayor. Ray Suarez reports.
RAY SUAREZ: When the first world trade tower collapsed on September 11, mayor Rudolph Giuliani quickly evacuated his temporary command center two blocks away.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: Let’s go north.
RAY SUAREZ: But then the second tower collapsed, and Giuliani found himself running for his life along with everybody else in the area.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: We literally escaped with them from the debris. They handled themselves with bravery, they handled themselves with dignity. They handled themselves in a way that reduced the loss of life. We didn’t have panic. We didn’t have people running and hurting other people. People of New York City really distinguished themselves.
RAY SUAREZ: Reporter: Since the day of the terrorist attack, Mayor Giuliani seems to be everywhere. Determined to see his city through the disaster, Giuliani has taken on a number of roles from crisis manager to counselor, from chief mourner to chief cheerleader.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: The skyline will be whole exactly what will be there I think we have to leave to giving some people some time to consider it and to think about it. Also the reality is that the people of New York City are going to be whole again. We’re very, very strong people.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: We have set up now a permanent family center at the armory on Lexington Avenue and 26th Street. If you are looking for someone that you believe is missing as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center, that’s the place to come to, to register, to bring identifying data and we’ll do everything we can to help you.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: (September 20) Now our job as New Yorkers, we have another task now. The people that are doing the recovery and the relief, we know what their job is. The rest of the New Yorkers have to go back to their normal way of life, as much as possible, and be optimistic.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: (September 21) It’s a difficult, very, very difficult situation. I think as people become more knowledgeable about this, the focus is going to change to how many human remains can we find that we can identify with a particular human being?
RAY SUAREZ: As Giuliani articulated people’s worst fears and addressed their needs, New Yorkers began to respond to the Mayor.
PAUL HALLER: He has really, obviously in the last week, truly emerged as a leader. Probably the most descriptive thing I heard was the French commentary calling him “Rudy the Rock.” He has really sort of stepped up to the plate, so to speak.
MARGO COHEN: I did not vote for him originally, I didn’t vote for him the second time either. And now I think that he did just an extraordinary job about pulling the city together. He really had just the right emotions and he really helped people through this in a tremendous way.
RAY SUAREZ: These are not comments most New Yorkers would have made about their Mayor before September 11. Just two weeks ago, he was perceived as a lame duck, required by term limits to leave office at the end of the year. He’s been called tough, uncompromising, even a control freak. But New York has blossomed in the last eight years. Giuliani was on a roll, taking credit for a huge drop in crime, ridding the streets of panhandlers and prostitutes, and generally improving New Yorker’s quality of life. But his second term has been a wild ride.
PROTESTERS: We’re protesting.
RAY SUAREZ: There were a number of high-profile killings of civilians by police and a shocking jail house assault on Abner Louima. The Mayor remained a strong public defender of his police department– a mostly white force, a majority of which chose to live outside the city. This riled many Black and Latino New Yorkers, who questioned the cost of get-tough policing. Then as the Mayor was set to begin a campaign for the United States Senate against Hillary Clinton, he revealed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, that his marriage was ending, and that he was in a relationship with another woman.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: (May 2000) There are risks, substantial risks that I can’t be the candidate that I would like to be. It doesn’t really matter very much which form of treatment I take, my concentration is not going to be there.
RAY SUAREZ: Suddenly the mayor was out of one of the top races of the 2000 election season, being treated for cancer, and finding his personal life under increasing scrutiny. Entertainment magazines, and the New York tabloids had a field day with his messy divorce.
LINDA STASI, New York Post: I’ve never seen anything like this, and I get down on my hands and knees every day and I thank god that it happened while I’m a journalist.
RAY SUAREZ: But since September 11th’s terrorist attack, Giuliani’s personal problems seem trivial compared to the enormity of New York’s disaster. And faced with today’s unexciting primary field, New Yorkers from David Letterman to the man on the street are yearning for four more years of Giuliani.
JAY SACHS: I think he’s conducted himself beyond any expectations that we would have ever had from way back when. I am a life long Democrat and I think right now he’d sweep the city.
GARDY COFFMAN: Mayor for life, yes indeed. He has done a great job. I would love to shake his hand and tell him so.
RAY SUAREZ: The Mayor says he is too busy to think about another term, but hasn’t said a definitive yes or no to questions about extending his tenure as Mayor.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI: My concentration has been on these things, not on that. And as soon as I have time, I will think about it and talk to the people I trust the most and get their advice and then, and then I will make a statement. But I am not ready to make a statement now.
RAY SUAREZ: Turnout was very light in today’s rescheduled primary election. And a Marist poll this week says a majority of New Yorkers would like to find a way for Giuliani to stay.