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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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Rudolph Giuliani
 
Rudolph Giuliani
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Rudolph Giuliani Interview (page: 5 / 8)

Former Mayor of New York City

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  Rudolph Giuliani

After September 11, there was a feeling around the country that you were suddenly a kinder, gentler Rudolph Giuliani. Is that true?

Rudolph Giuliani Interview Photo
Rudolph Giuliani: I was the same person, affected by a horrific event. It had to have an impact on you, and probably even now, less than two years later, I don't really understand the impact that it had on me. But I didn't feel like I was a different person. I had to call upon different things, and I had to rely on different things, and I had to deal with things that I never thought I had to deal with before. But maybe it emphasized certain parts of my personality that being in another situation wouldn't emphasize. Or maybe people got a chance to look at you differently. Maybe they got a chance to see you in a different way, when a lot of that was there in the past. It's hard to know which of the two dominates.

You've often been described as a fighter. As mayor, you fought with criminals, you fought with the media, you fought with your own staff sometimes. But after September 11, you were seen more as "consoler-in-chief." Was the country just getting to see what your close friends had seen all along? How do you see yourself?

Rudolph Giuliani: I think I'm both. I'm capable of fighting when I have to, or consoling when I have to. As the mayor, whenever somebody who worked for the city was seriously hurt, I was there and tried to help them, tried to help their family. I see that as part of my job. But , if somebody is going to take advantage of the city, then I would fight very hard for it. Being a mayor calls upon all different parts of your personality. If the city is under attack, you've got to fight back. If the city is going through mourning, you have to understand that, and you've got to mourn with them, and you've got to share that.


I never saw myself as any different than another New Yorker, because I had been -- that's who I was. I was born in Brooklyn, and I lived in Queens, and I went to school in the Bronx, and I lived in Manhattan, and I spent a lot of time in Staten Island. So I felt very much a part of the city. And even when people would say to me later, "You showed great strength," I would always say, because it's true, that I just reflected the strength of the people of the city. Whatever I have is very similar to what they have, because I'm one of them. So, I always felt that. I always felt that, well, I'm one of them. I have responsibilities. In certain areas, I am in charge. And I think New Yorkers are fighters. I mean, you've got to be tough about what you believe in, and then, when people need help, you've got to be willing to help them.


People are complex. You have different parts of your personality.

What effect do you think fighting prostate cancer had on you, in dealing with September 11th?


Rudolph Giuliani: Fighting prostate cancer, having to accept the fact that you had cancer -- my father died of prostate cancer -- having to figure out how to deal with it, had a big impact one me. It probably helped a lot to understand some of what people were going through on September 11 -- having to face mortality, having to face death, having to face these perplexing questions of why someone is alive and why someone else is dead. Why does someone get cancer and someone else doesn't? Why does someone who is standing on the north side of the building live and a person standing on the south side of the building die? What about the person that came to work that day late and lived? Or the person that decided that they were going to walk into the World Trade Center just to see someone, and they had never been there before, and they died? Those are the questions that perplex human beings. And when you have to face that in your life, you either grow or you recede. And I think that having prostate cancer helped me to grow, philosophically, religiously, so that at least I had that perspective when I had to deal with my own losses on September 11. The danger that I was in, the risk, and then the tremendous losses that so many other people had that were even greater than mine.

[ Key to Success ] Courage


So I think having prostate cancer just developed me as a human being. It gave me much more insight into life, death, and how to deal with that as best you can.

You also had some domestic problems that were aired in the media. Do you think your passion for your work as mayor may have had some negative effect on your personal life?

Rudolph Giuliani Interview Photo
Rudolph Giuliani: There's no question, when you are passionately dedicated to your work, whether it is as United States Attorney or as a mayor or as a baseball player or a doctor, it's going to have an impact on your personal life. It becomes very difficult. And you know, I'm just a human being. I have the same problems in balancing all that that I think other people have. It takes a lot of growth and a lot of understanding and a lot of maturity, and who knows what else, to be able to put all that together. The reality is that there are tradeoffs in life, and if you devote so much of yourself to your work, or the obligations that revolve around your work, it's going to have an impact on your personal life. You just have to deal with that.

It's hard to recall another political figure recovering from as difficult a situation as you were in with the media.

Rudolph Giuliani: I always felt, and I still feel, that the media doesn't belong in a public official's private life. It's a very difficult balance, because if you are elected to public office, people have a right to know a great deal about you, and the press has an absolute obligation to report all of that. But the reality is that there are times in which the reporting is really happening for almost voyeuristic reasons, in the gossip columns. Maybe half of it is wrong, and half of it is correct, and a lot of it is exaggerated. You've just got to get used to that if you're in public life.


I would try very hard to keep my private life out of the press, but most of the time couldn't succeed, and when it happened, I would just say to myself, well, you just have to accept that. This is part of the bad part, for all the good parts of being in public service. And when I counsel people about running for public office at any level, I always try to explain to them that that is a tradeoff that you're making. You're going to give up a lot more of your private life than you realize when you run for --- particularly a major public office -- and you just better be ready for it. And honestly, until you go through it, nobody is ready for it. I have sat with people, looked in their eyes and told them that, as people did with me. But then, when you go through it, it's different than anybody can describe it. And then, you just have to get used to it and move on, which I eventually did, but there was an adjustment period.


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