The International Association of Firefighters has long hated Rudy Giuliani. He didn’t give New York’s Bravest adequate equipment before 9/11, the union has always said, he was insufficiently concerned with their safety during cleanup after 9/11, and he didn’t let them search ground zero long enough for the remains of their brethren. Worst of all, they argue, he’s built a persona — and a thriving presidential campaign — by appropriating firefighters’ heroism as his own. Yesterday the union put out a campaign-style video, attacking Giuliani for his failings. “He was running on his 9/11 leadership, and it was lacking,” FDNY deputy chief Jim Riches says in it. “He was not the hero of 9/11.” And there’s lots more like that.
So how did America’s Mayor respond? Well, he didn’t. He was in town yesterday for a funeral, but he didn’t speak publicly about the charges. Instead, the campaign sent Lee Lelpi, a firefighter who lost a son when the Trade Center collapsed, and Richard Sheirer, former chief of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, to defend their man at a hastily arranged late-afternoon press conference. Sheirer had perhaps the most interesting defense: “Nobody died during that recovery.” True. They just breathed things that will kill them later. —Michael Gsovski
Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend [IAFF]