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Giuliani a Closet Liberal?

The latest flap over Rudy Giuliani's political past requires a long reach back into the complexities of New York State politics. As in most states, it's an ugly, personal battle, with parties and people attempting to settle old scores one election at a time.

New questions about Giuliani come courtesy of Mitt Romney's campaign, which has distributed a 1993 TV news clip of the former mayor in an effort to paint him as a "small L" liberal. The Romney campaign released the clip Tuesday, the same day Giuliani started airing a radio ad claiming he's the "worst nightmare" of the liberal MoveOn.org group.

The 1993 clip from NY1 shows then-mayoral candidate Giuliani meeting with members of the New York State (big "L") Liberal Party on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

"He's doing his best to remind West Side liberals, that he does hold the Liberal line on the ballot," the reporter says.

"They can send me a signal and vote for me on the Liberal line," Giuliani says.

Huh? The Romney camp doesn't provide the rest of the story, to provide context of who "they" are and what "signal" they're supposed to send to Giuliani. This deserves some context, and historical perspective.

Watch the clip here, but read on below:

Understand that in New York State, minor parties matter. In last year's statewide elections, Empire State voters could choose from candidates from the Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative, and Working Families parties. A state political party must meet a 50,000-vote threshold in gubernatorial elections in order to appear on the ballot for the next four years.

A New York Democrat or Republican running in a primary often reaches out to the minor parties for a few reasons: First, to prove to his party's base, and other skeptics that the candidate can build a coalition, and attract support from parties on the ideological fringe. Second, to assure himself a spot on the November statewide ballot, regardless of whether he wins his party's primary. For example, when Andrew Cuomo challenged Carl McCall for the 2002 Democratic nomination for governor, he earned the Liberal Party nomination, assuring himself a spot on the November ballot. Cuomo dropped out of the race before the Democratic primary however, and while he still appeared on the Liberal Party ballot, he did not actively campaign, and the party failed to meet the 50,000-vote threshold.

Flash back to 1989: The Liberal Party endorses Giuliani over incumbent mayor Edward I. Koch (D), who was in a four-way Democratic primary. Koch, who many considered racially divisive, loses the primary to David Dinkins. As Washington Post alum Michael Powell reported in the New York Times back in July, Giuliani had considered building a Black-White Catholic coalition of voters to beat Koch in the general election. The Liberal Party took a lot of grief for supporting Giuliani, but the party had poor relations with Koch, and decided to support someone else. The theory, according to observers, was that Giuliani would run in the tradition of Fiorello H. LaGuardia, or John Lindsay, mayoral candidates that crossed party lines and ideology to build a winning coalition.

When Dinkins won the Democratic primary however, most blacks began supporting Dinkins, ending Giuliani's hope for a Black-White Catholic coaltion. He then ran to the right, attacking Dinkins by, among other things, running an ad in a Jewish newspaper that called him "a Jesse Jackson Democrat." Dinkins won the 1989 race, and avoided reconciliation with the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party endorsed Giuliani again in 1993. This does not mean he ran a "small L" liberal campaign, however. Sure, Giuliani was pro-choice, and pro-gay rights, but so are most New York Republicans, and a majority of New York voters. Giuliani needed the Liberal Party support in order to build a broad enough coalition to win, and the Liberal Party saw no one else to support.

According to one long time New York political observer, Giuliani ran as an "urban conservative" in 1989, and 1993. He was tough on law and order issues, corruption, and ethics, but also pro-gay rights, and pro-choice.

"If it wasn't for the Byzantine nature of New York politics in 1993, Giuliani would have run as a Republican-Conservative, not as a Republican-Liberal," the observer says. "But because of Dinkins' efforts to render the Liberal Party out of existence, the Liberal Party had nowhere to go but Giuliani."

Why did Giuliani not seek the Conservative Party nomination? That party endorsed businessman Ron Lauder in 1989, after Lauder lost to Giuliani in the GOP primary. It left its ballot blank in 1993, and 1997, instead of backing Giuliani. Problem is, the Conservative Party was closely aligned with Alfonse D'Amato, a Giuliani rival, who eventually helped elect George Pataki as New York governor in 1994, while Giuliani backed Democrat Mario Cuomo. On principle, the party also did not want to nominate a candidate already supported by the Liberal Party. The decision to leave the ballot blank in 1993 and 1997 however was considered a silent endorsement of Giuliani's tactics, and record. (The Giuliani campaign also reminds us that columnist George Will has stated that Giuliani's "eight years as Mayor of New York were the most successful episode of conservative governance in this country in the last 50 years.")

So yes, Giuliani embraced liberal beliefs on abortion, and gay rights, and earned the support of the Liberal Party, but needed to do so in order to win. The Romney campaign is obviously trying to remind Republicans, and the press, that Giuliani also embraced liberal viewpoints, and wooed more moderate or liberal voters in order to win, just as the former governor once did. But the "flip flopper," "liberal" tags seem to be sticking more to Romney than Giuliani these days, and with the emergence of Fred Thompson, the Romney campaign must simultaneously fend off his threat and maintain its early leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, in order to win next year.

-- Ed O'Keefe

By Ed O'Keefe |  September 19, 2007; 2:50 PM ET
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The Conservative Party did not leave its ballot blank in 1993. It ran George Marlin, who attacked Giuliani virulently from the Right. Conservative boss Mike Long opposed Giuliani for years, because of his position on abortion, even when Rudy ran for Senate in 2000.

Posted by: Richard Skinner | September 19, 2007 3:41 PM

The fact is that Giuliani is a social liberal and is now trying to run in the opposite direction, to the right, to get the nomination. So what to do? Look at his time in office where he governed....as a social liberal. The answers ar there, just look for them.

Posted by: Dan, Upstate NY | September 19, 2007 3:55 PM

Mitt Kerry is getting desperate. Now, not only is he misrepresenting his own record, but he's deliberately misrepresenting the record of other Republicans. He is despicable and I view him as dangerous and loathsome as that other great phony, Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Rhinosaurusrex | September 19, 2007 4:18 PM

Giuliani's campaign is smart to defend itself. Readers and voters are also smart to think for themselves and decide as we all will if we trust Rudy or for that matter any political candidate running for office. I myself, know this article has truth to it on the "build a broad enough coalition to win" part. (1) Question I have for Rudy, is why did he select Democrat judges by an 8 to 1 margin who held left of center legal standards as compared to Democrat Judges or even Republican Judges who were moderate to conservative in their approach to legal questions?

As Mayor of New York City, I for one, would like this question answered instead of Rudy saying simply that he will appoint Strict Constructionist Judges to the Federal Bench in the event Rudy is Elected President of the United States of America. I want to be convinced why he decided to all of the sudden change his political ideology.

Posted by: Jake | September 19, 2007 5:06 PM

Hear! Hear! I hereby second the motion put forth by Jake.

Why do people (especially MSM) think we should believe Rudy when he "promises" to do differently than he has done before, but not believe Mitt Romney is sincere in his "conservative conversion." Romney has actually BEHAVED in a conservative manner in the past.

And why throw out the George Will quote? Since when is he a mastermind of conservatism???

Posted by: Ogrepete | September 19, 2007 11:43 PM

To answer the above question --

The New York City Mayor doesn't get to appoint any judges on his own. People submit their own names and the legislature sorts them out, finally ending up in the Mayor choosing who he wants from the recommendations, as I understand it, and with Democrats running the City Council, there wasn't much choice in the matter...

There's a similar process in Massachusetts, which is why Romney can't be attacked for his poor "appointments," too.

I'm a Giuliani supporter, by the way.

Posted by: Alex888 | September 20, 2007 2:45 AM

Alex888, while it is true as most political savy people already know that the New York City Council is controlled by liberal Democrats, you are incorrect in your assessment that Rudy Giuliani, did not have the ability to reject recommended appointments to fill vacancies on the New York City Courts.

I want to make it clear, Rudy Giuliani alone, nominated the judicial appointments he wanted to become Judges. Your comment is in error as to the point on former mayor Rudy Giuliani, not being the sole person who selected the appointments to the New York City Courts.

I commend you Alex888, for pointing out you are a Rudy supporter. It is very respectable that you try not to hide your bias. The fact that you are a Rudy supporter is perfectly acceptable, for it is your right as an American.

Posted by: Jake | September 20, 2007 9:54 AM

Giuliani is not a liberal. If anything he is a neo-con NWO thug

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 9:53 PM

If you want a government that spies on you without restraint, that can arrest you and detain you forever without charges, that will force everyone to show their papers to travel anywhere, that will grow government to obscene levels Giuliani is your man. For myself and hopefully most others we prefer freedom and liberty. Not the liberal police state Giuliani wants. We will vote for and support Ron Paul.

Posted by: Kurtis1 | September 22, 2007 9:54 PM

I think James Dobson is seriously considering endorsing Mitt Romney. Not that he approves of Mormonism, but most people (including Dobson) really looking at Romney don't feel like he's earned the flip-flopping label the media has given him as much as they say, and I think Dobson secretly trusts/likes Romney and believes Romney is a capable politician with some core values, even though Dobson abhores his religion. One thing is for sure: Romney is probably the only top tier contender who really believes in God (albeit one that is different is some respects from the Protestant version). Is a Mormon worse than an atheist? Because if "by their works you shall know them" all the other candidates are godless atheists except Romney. The biggest question for Dobson is: Can a Mormon win? Ironically, Dobson's endorsement decision may hold the answer to that questions, as his endorsement may be what is needed to galvanize evangelicals.

Posted by: Steven Rinehart | September 23, 2007 3:35 AM


"The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is the American Branch of a society which originated in England and believes national boundaries should be obliterated and one-world rule established." -Carroll Quigley, member of CFR, mentor to Bill Clinton

"The main purpose of the Council on Foreign Relation is promoting the disarmament of U.S. sovereignty and national independence and submergence into an all powerful, one world government." "...the very substantial research facilities of the CFR are put to work to develop arguments, intellectual and emotional, to support the new policy..." "...and to confound and discredit, intellectually and politically, any opposition." -Admiral Chester Ward, former CFR member and Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy

Who is a CFR / NAU member?

Which Presidential Candidates are for One-World Government?

Republican Fred Thompson

Republican Rudy Giuliani

Republican Mitt Romney

Republican John McCain

Republican Jim Gilmore

Republican Newt Gingrich

Democrat Hilary Clinton

Democrat Barack Obama

Democrat John Edwards

Democrat Joe Biden

Democrat Chris Dodd

Democrat Bill Richardson

Is there any difference between Republican and Democrat when they have the same goal?

Go to www.cfr.org (Council of Foreign Relations Website). Do a search for: Sovereignty and Globalisation. Take a look at CFR President Richard N. Haass' article "Sovereignty and Globalisation. Check the membership and involvement of all the candidates. See For Yourself!

So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations are a threat to our independence as a nation.

We MUST withdraw from any organization and trade deal that infringes upon the Freedom and Independence of the United States of America!

It's not politics as usual. Research and Vote Wisely. Too Much Is At Stake....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2007 4:33 PM

The irrefutable fact is that Rudy Giuliani has flip-flopped his two-faces on more occasions than all the other candidates combined.

THIS, alone, should end his campaign, as the NRA saw Rudy lie to them and change his story as always.

And this is precisely why Rudy is our next president.

He's as oily as Slick Willie (but not as smart or charming).

Rudy can't lose. Even people who hate him say they're voting for him!

giulianiScandals dot blogspot dot com

Posted by: christopher1 | September 24, 2007 3:40 AM

christopher1, You sadly are liekly going to end up being correct. Rudy Giuliani will will easily defeat Hillary Clinton I am assuming and for this reason this is why people who dislike Rudy for his Liberal Positions on social issues will vote for him anways because he is better than a flaming socialist named Mrs. Clinton.

The problem with this picture, is the questions most people are not asking themselves. It is this. Once Rudy Giuliani is elected as our 44th President of the United States of America, he will lead according to his ideology which is moderate but leans slightly more to the left than most Moderate Republicans will feel comfortable with.

The result of only focusing on is percieved at best being positioned against Hillary Clinton, is going to be the reason why the majority of Republican voters will likely vote en mass, to elect a Liberal Reublican named Rudy Giuliani.

Posted by: Jake | September 24, 2007 2:12 PM

Newt Gingrich is likely to announce he is running for President on the week of Monday October the 21st and no later than Wednesday October the the 24th a Wednesday. A day which consequencly is United Nations Day. I am told he has already raised over $12 Million dollors as of this writing.

Looks like Rudy, finally has some competion with brains nipping at his *** on the G.O.P. side of the equation.

Posted by: Jake | September 25, 2007 1:43 AM

Correction, I said in the above post Newt Gingrich would likely announce on Monday the 21st. If one looks on the 2007 calendar, you will find it is Sunday that October the 21st falls on. Sorry for the typing error.

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