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Giuliani's First Responders

If there's a group of people that former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani needs behind him as he runs for president, it's first-responders.

Giuliani's campaign is rooted in his leadership on Sept. 11, and particularly in the bond between the mayor and the police and fire officers who responded to the attacks. If that story unravels, Giuliani's campaign loses one of its best narratives.

That is the motivation behind today's announcement of a national first responders coalition, headed by Howard Safir, the former fire and police commissioner in New York. The coalition will be announced later today.

In an interview, Safir said Giuliani is the choice of firefighters and police officers because he understands the issues they face better than most politicians. "He gets it. He understands what's needed out there," Safir said. "I've never worked with a non-police officer who better understands both tactical and non-tactical situations."

The challenge for Giuliani is that not all first responders feel that way. The International Association of Firefighters has been waging an increasingly hostile campaign against Giuliani, accusing him of grandstanding during the attacks and of abandoning the responders.

Their charges are laid out in a website, The Giuliani campaign accuses the firefighters of being a Democratic group motivated by partisan politics. The unveiling of his first responders coalition is intended to burnish his Sept. 11 credentials even as the sixth anniversary of the attacks approach.

New York's current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, announced this week that Giuliani will be speaking -- though not reading the names of the dead -- at the 9/11 memorial next month.

Safir, who was Giuliani's longest-serving police commissioner, rejects out of hand the allegations by the firefighters association. "If they didn't have a political agenda, it's something I could deal with," he said. "The ordinary firefighters -- they love Rudy Giuliani."

--Michael D. Shear

By Washington Post editors  |  August 29, 2007; 11:45 AM ET
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The official conspiracy theory is ridiculous - 9/11: The day men with snap off craft knives brought a super power to it's knees.

Posted by: Hiyauatha | August 31, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

By the way, that command post at 7 WTC was also known to have a private suite that was used by Giuliani to woo his third wife, while still married to his second wife.

Posted by: ramster1 | August 29, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Rudy was out on the street after 9/11, partly to show his support for the victims and to lead the rescue and recovery efforts. But he was there also because his command center had been destroyed on 9/11. The NYC Command Center had always been in Police Headquarters. Giuliani - against professional advice - moved it to the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center. He also installed an emergency fuel supply on the 22nd floor. This violated Fire Dept. rules which require all fuel tanks to be installed below ground. When 7 WTC was struck by debris from the towers, the fuel tank caused the whole building to catch fire. This should never have been built near a site which was a known target for terrorists

Posted by: ramster1 | August 29, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Guiliani did many things as mayor. Most of them good. How can anyone forget what NYC was like before he was elected.
Like all of us he is not perfect and did and will make mistakes BUT he is a leader and when we were attacked on 9/11 he was where he should have been,out in front leading as best he could.
We need leaders not people who have wonderful hindsight or follow.

Posted by: mct1 | August 29, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Giuliani made terrible decisions that affected the firefighters on 9/11. 1. he would not make a decision to create a unified command structure for emergencies so the police and fire had different command posts on 9/11 and firefighters died because they did not get information such as from the police helicopters that the south tower was leaning. 2. Giuliani built the emergency center in the World Trade Center 7 when he was warned not to so it was unusable that day. 3. He did not get the firefighters usable radios. 4. He did not make sure the rescuers on the pile had and used the safety equipment they needed to protect them from the bad air. Read all in Grand Illusions by Barrett and Collins.

Posted by: goldie2 | August 29, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

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