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The Thunderbolt


Guiliani at dinner with his "friend" Judi Nathan in 2001.  

“I had left city government before 9/11, and Rudy called me back to help out,” Hauer says. “He asked me to relocate the Family Assistance Center from the Armory on Lexington Avenue, which was too small, to Pier 94. We put it together in two and a half days. At that point, he had already announced his separation from Donna and he wanted to get Judith involved somehow. Most people didn’t really care. We had a job to do. Where she had opinions, she offered them, and where they were valuable, we listened. The fact that she was the mayor’s girlfriend didn’t carry a lot of weight with most of the folks working there.”

Afterward, Rudy installed her on the board of the Twin Towers Fund.

The Giuliani-Nathan nuptials were a star-studded extravaganza at which the bride wore a bejeweled Vera Wang gown and a diamond tiara, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated, and the 400 guests included Wang, Walters, Beverly Sills, Yogi Berra, Joe Torre, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, Mort Zuckerman and Henry Kissinger, even Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas.

Judith elevated her profile in the charity world by touting various good causes in her column in Gotham magazine. She lent her name to the all-girls Mother Cabrini High School and the McCarton School for autistic children.

In 2003, Judith posed in a cranberry bejeweled Carolina Herrera gown for the cover of the society glossy Avenue. She sported a huge Chopard brooch and Jimmy Choo shoes while reclining languidly in her so-called Moroccan sitting room. From the magazine’s excitable perspective, the Giulianis had “created their own Chartwell,” the name of Sir Winston Churchill’s country house, on the Upper East Side. The article confidently predicted that Judith “could be the most stylish First Lady since another Upper East Sider, Jacqueline Kennedy.”

“You have a successful marriage when you have each other as a priority,” she told the magazine. “I travel with Rudy. He respects me and involved me in all aspects of his life. We get involved in speechwriting. We make decisions together about which places we are going to go. It’s a busy life and we live it together.”

They have adjoining offices at Giuliani Partners at 5 Times Square, where she has installed Pilates machines, the better to keep her husband fit. Today, she doesn’t like to leave his side, her arm possessively around his waist at social gatherings such as a buffet dinner last July at Ronald Perelman’s East Hampton estate, where I saw the two of them navigating the A-list crowd joined at the hip. Manhattan hostesses have long known that if they invite the Giulianis to dinner, they must be prepared to breach protocol by seating them not only at the same table but next to each other, and Rudy’s standard lecture contract explicitly requires that his wife be placed beside him in case his appearance involves sitting through a meal.

It’s no surprise to veteran Rudy watchers that in recent weeks, senior presidential-campaign operatives have apparently been grumbling about what they consider Judith’s meddling in matters outside her areas of competence. “She’s, uh, feisty, as they say,” a high-level supporter told Newsday. “The staff people go a little nuts.”

The story of Manny Papir is a cautionary tale for anyone who doubts that Judith Giuliani is a force to be reckoned with. Papir, Rudy’s longtime personal aide, learned the hard way during a trip to Europe when Rudy, taking a 9/11 victory lap in early 2002, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and then was honored with the German Media Prize in Baden-Baden. Among Rudy’s inner circle, Judith was fast becoming known for her demanding requirements. Even loyalist Sunny Mindel was overheard joking that whenever they arranged a chartered jet for their principal and his companion, “we need two seats for Judith—one for her and one for her Gucci bag.” (“I have no recollection of saying that,” Mindel says.)

When Judith asked to stay two nights in Baden-Baden instead of the previously planned one—throwing the intricate schedule into disarray—Papir, who was advancing Rudy’s triumphal tour, made the mistake of betraying his impatience. Running into other members of the entourage in the lobby, he muttered, “Let me guess—you’re waiting for Princess, too.” When the quip was reported back to Rudy and Judith, Papir—who declined to comment—was out of a $200,000-a-year job.

McKeon dismisses the complaints, arguing that Judith is not trying to be a political strategist. “It comes from people who are not on the inside of the campaign. Maybe that’s why they’re grumbling,” he says. “Judith is nothing but an asset, and, as the campaign continues, she’s going to be a larger and larger asset.”


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