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If you like Rudolph Giuliani's story, you might also like:
Willie Brown,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Larry King,
Norman Mailer,
Frank McCourt,
Alan Simpson,
John Sexton,
Antonio Villaraigosa
and Andrew Young

Rudolph Giuliani's recommended reading: Profiles in Courage

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Encyclopedia.com
nyc.gov
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Rudolph Giuliani
 
Rudolph Giuliani
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Rudolph Giuliani Interview (page: 3 / 8)

Former Mayor of New York City

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  Rudolph Giuliani

One of the things that is very interesting about your career is that there seems to be a direct link between your work in the U.S. Attorney's Office and your work as a mayor, particularly in the area of crime-fighting. Did that form a connection for you?

Rudolph Giuliani Interview Photo
Rudolph Giuliani: In a psychological way, it probably did, but I would have to go deeper than things I actually know to really see that, because during the time my father was alive, he didn't make that connection. But now, when I look back on it, I realize that that is probably one of the reasons why he emphasized respecting the law, obeying the law, how important it was. When he was doing it, I didn't have the knowledge I have now. I didn't realize why he spent so much time on making sure you are honest, making sure you obey the law. When I made the choice to be a lawyer, and even during my early career as a lawyer, his real wish for me was to be a judge. He used to tell me that, that he wanted me to be a judge, not go into politics. He said, "You'd be a very good judge, and I'd be very happy if you were a judge." And at the time, I didn't know why he emphasized that so much, and now I think I do, but I'm not absolutely sure. I think I do from the additional facts that I was able to get a few years ago.

How long did he live? Long enough to see your success?

Rudolph Giuliani: My father lived until 1981. At the time that he died, I was just being appointed Associate Attorney General of the United States. So he lived to see a lot of my career, but not when I became the United States Attorney, not Mayor of New York City. Very, very often, I wish that he had, because he played a much more instrumental role in all that than I realized.

What do you think made you such a forceful and effective prosecutor?


Rudolph Giuliani: I think I was very fortunate to have a very good education -- both just general education in high school, college, law school -- and then directly from the people that I worked with. I think two years with Judge McMahon taught me how to be a really, really good trial lawyer. I probably would not have had at least that knowledge. And, it fit my talents. If I had tried to be a nuclear scientist, I probably wouldn't have been a success, because I'm not sure I'd have those talents. But I have essentially a logical mind, and sort of a natural desire to solve problems, and I enjoy speaking and analyzing and writing. So all the things that a lawyer has to do are things that I like to do, and if I had selected -- I guess the technical term for it is "a profession with other skill sets" -- I'd have been a big failure. You're fortunate if you select the area in which your strengths are emphasized rather than your weaknesses.


So when did you make the connection between your work in the U.S. Attorney's Office and a run for Mayor of New York City?


Rudolph Giuliani: The first time that I really thought about running for Mayor of New York City, I was trying a case in New Haven, Connecticut -- when I was United States Attorney in New York -- that had been removed. The venue had been changed, and it was a case involving municipal corruption of commissioners and county leaders, political leaders, who were involved in a bribery scheme in New York City. And during the trial, the thought entered my mind that maybe if I was the mayor, I could straighten this out.


As I started to think about it after the case was over, that thought was tempered by the fact that I'm a Republican, and New York City is a 5-to-1 Democratic city. Maybe you could run for the Senate, or maybe you could run for Governor, or maybe you could run where things are more balanced. But running for Mayor of New York City -- there haven't been many Republican mayors. The one before me, John Lindsay, became a Democrat while he was mayor, in his second term. But I thought about it more and more. A couple of years went by, and I thought about it more and more. It seemed to me like it was worth going through all the organization and effort, because it's something where I can make a contribution.


As the United States Attorney and assistant United States Attorney, a native New Yorker, I knew all the things that were wrong with the city. I had investigated organized crime, prosecuted organized crime, white-collar crime, drug dealing, municipal corruption, other forms of government corruption. I got to see all the bad parts of the city, and I knew all the good parts just from my life as a New Yorker. So I felt, well, this is an ideal situation for me. The city needs a reform mayor right now. It needs somebody who is going to change things. It needs a mayor who understands how to reduce crime, because we were averaging thousands and thousands of murders -- at one point, we were averaging 2,000 murders a year -- and so maybe I could get myself elected.

[ Key to Success ] Vision



The first time I ran, I lost by two percent, and the second time I ran, I won by two percent, and then I got reelected by a much larger number. But maybe the fact that so many people told me it couldn't be done challenged me. I'd go talk to people about, "Should I run for mayor?" and they would tell me, "You're crazy. You can't. You're a Republican. A Republican can't get elected. Being a mayor is a thankless job. The city's unmanageable, the city's ungovernable." Even books were written with those titles, "New York City is Ungovernable," "New York City is Unmanageable." Maybe there's something about my personality, but the more people told me that, the more I wanted to do it. It didn't make sense to me that the city was unmanageable or ungovernable. Nothing is unmanageable or ungovernable.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance


You've got to try your best to do it. I had a different approach to social problems. I thought I saw what was wrong in the way we were handling social problems. We were promising grand solutions and hurting more people than helping them, because we weren't helping individual people. The solutions were macro solutions that didn't work and that weren't helping individual people. So I thought I could also get an opportunity to sort of adjust that, so that we would actually help individual people, rather than have some kind of a broad-based approach that didn't really offer any help to people, that was actually making their condition worse.

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This page last revised on Apr 17, 2008 16:20 EST
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