Saturday, August 4, 2007

Judith Giuliani Fights Back, Ineffectively

Rudy Giuliani's wife, Judith, has received overwhelmingly negative press coverage thus far in the campaign, like this Vanity Fair article. The reasons range from her strained relations with campaign staffers to the fact that she had an affair with Giuliani while he was still married to Donnna Hanover. So Judith has recently set out to turn her image around. From her interview in the New York Times:

A daughter of small-town Pennsylvania, a former nurse and working mother who struggled to raise a child on her own, she cuts a figure that Mr. Giuliani’s aides say will appeal to Republican voters. Husband and wife agree that Laura Bush is a model for Mrs. Giuliani.

But Judith carries some distinctly un-Laura baggage. Like her husband, she has been married twice before. They also had a secret affair for a year before Mr. Giuliani announced it to the world — and to his second wife, Donna Hanover — at a news conference.

Her relations with Mr. Giuliani’s children by Ms. Hanover are by all accounts deeply strained, despite her efforts at rapprochement. And his son and daughter, ages 21 and 17, have said they do not plan to campaign for their father.

Sharply critical articles, most recently in Vanity Fair, have described Mrs. Giuliani as an imperious striver who shops extravagantly, demands a separate seat on the campaign plane for her Louis Vuitton handbag and has compiled a hit list of campaign aides she wants fired.

Now, with his wife’s public role scaled back, at least temporarily, strategists are asking dueling questions: Can he win over socially conservative voters if his wife is not by his side? Can he win them over if she is?

Maybe, maybe not. The Giuliani strategy is to send out Rudy and Judith to speak candidly about the details of their romance and the problems their marriage has caused on the campaign trail. The goal: to humanize them. I don't know it that will help, though. Check it out:

Until now, the Giulianis have declined to discuss the matter, calling it “a romantic secret.” But in the interviews, the couple provided their version of their introduction, saying that they met at Club Macanudo, a cigar bar on East 63rd Street, in May 1999. They said they were introduced by Dr. Burt Meyers, a specialist in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital who was there with Mrs. Nathan and had met Mr. Giuliani when his mother was a patient there.

After chatting for an hour, mostly about her work in the pharmaceutical industry, Mr. Giuliani asked for her phone number, they said. “She gave me a piece of paper to write it on,” he recalled. “One of our other romantic little secrets is I’ve kept it all these years in my wallet.”

After they began dating, Mrs. Giuliani had plans to fly to Hawaii on a vacation awarded to leading sales managers by her employer.

“He said, ‘Please don’t go,’ ” she recalled. “ ‘You’ve already become too important to me.’ ”

Personally, I don't find this little story endearing at all. I just can't sympathize with Giuliani when he's cheating on his wife. Now, I don't think his personal life is particularly relevant to the job Giuliani would do as president. (There are other reasons why he would be bad at that.) If I wanted to vote for him as president, this wouldn't stop me. However, it remains to be seen if Republican primary voters will be so forgiving.

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