New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is dropping out of the Senate race. I wish him a speedy and complete recovery in his battle with cancer. But I don't like to think about a political world without Rudy. The more controversial the politician, the more likely he is to get on television, and we reporters have had a swell time recounting Rudy's battles with just about everyone.
In fact, it was little more than a year ago that I sat down for an in-depth interview with him about whether he planned to run for the Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton. He hadn't jumped into the race yet, but he was already taunting the first lady by claiming "if Hillary announces in New York, I'm going to go to Arkansas and announce for the Senate, and say...the mayor of New York wants to run for the Senate from Arkansas."
Mayor Giuliani has always loved a good fight. He relishes telling how he was a childhood Yankee fan, despite living close to where the Brooklyn Dodgers played. "I was several times very close to being literally killed by the other children in the neighborhood," he told me, with a grin, "because I would insist on wearing my Yankee hat."
But one public brawl the mayor probably never counted on was the one he's having with his wife, Donna Hanover, about his infidelity. Giuliani admitted to having a romance with a woman named Judith Nathan and announced a separation from his wife. That came as a shock to Hanover, who promptly let it be known that Nathan was not the mayor's first fling and that he had in fact been quite cozy with his former communications chief, one Christine Lategano.
I found that quite interesting because last year, after reading about Giuliani's relationship with Lategano in the New York press, I felt compelled to ask him about it. Our conversation went like this:
- Mayor: I actually think you'd feel better about yourself if you didn't ask that question. (Laughs.)
Me: I might, but I think as a reporter...
Mayor: Because you know why?
Me: You have to ask questions that you're not particularly happy asking.
Mayor: Well, the answer to all those questions is, my private life is my private life, and you don't have any right to ask me about it.
And now, a year later, Im puzzled about why it was not OK to ask about his relationship with Lategano, but it is OK to ask about his relationship with Nathan. Hanover is apparently wondering the same thing.
Of course Mayor Giuliani's feistiness was never reserved for his personal life. Try raising any criticisms about his job performance. For example, when we sat down to talk there was strong disapproval from some quarters of the mayor's attitude toward alleged brutality by New York City's police.
- Me: They condemn you for creating an atmosphere.
Mayor: Well I mean, they can try to condemn me; they're not going to get away with it.
Now the mayor says he will not run for the Senate. I respect his wishes. Knowing his love of a good fight, I imagine that he'll relish beating the tar out of the big "C." But I sure will hate to miss him battling it out with Mrs. Clinton.