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The Indecider

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Giuliani was unapologetic when asked about DiPascali. “That’s what you do as a lawyer,” he told me. “You’re a doctor—you help people who are in trouble.” Giuliani even spun the case as a kind of public service, given that the Bracewell lawyer, Marc Mukasey, helped persuade DiPascali to cooperate with the Feds. “The government was on his side because he had done such good work cooperating,” Giuliani said, looking pleased with himself.

“When people come into this office, I don’t make a political judgment about them,” he continued. “We make a judgment as to whether or not they understand that we’re going to do it ethically and honorably, but if so, in most cases, you’ll take the client. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a lawyer.” Or, as Michael Corleone said in Giuliani’s favorite movie: “It’s strictly business.”

Rudy’s allies seem to enjoy ratcheting up the suspense around his decision. “It’s always difficult to anticipate Mayor Giuliani. No doubt about that,” says former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari, now a lobbyist in Bracewell’s Washington, D.C., office. But in other quarters, patience is starting to wear thin. Earlier this year, the state party’s outgoing chairman, Joe Mondello, asked him to make a decision by early fall—something that clearly hasn’t happened. And now that another GOP contender—former GOP congressman Rick Lazio, who initially deferred to Giuliani in the 2000 Senate race—has announced his own candidacy, some Republicans are getting tired of Rudy’s Hamlet act. “People are eager for him to make a decision one way or another, just for the health of other Republicans who may want to run,” says one person who has worked for Giuliani.

Some people see the recent effort to install an ally in the job of New York GOP chairman as a sign of his engagement in state politics. But despite a round of lobbying by Giuliani and aides like Carbonetti, the job went to Richard Nixon’s son-in-law, Ed Cox. And now Giuliani has, at best, an uneasy truce with Cox, who has recently been urging him to take on Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand next year. Even though a recent poll had Giuliani beating her by nine points, Giuliani laughs off the idea. “My value is in running things,” he told me. “Commenting is great, but I get to do that anyway on television and radio and [in] op-ed pieces.” “It’s a job that we have discussed in the past, and he just has no desire to do it,” Carbonetti says.

It seems entirely possible that Rudy is playing a game—one that is about his own self-worth, and also about his net worth. Stringing things out is a form of free advertising.

Which is why it seems entirely possible that Rudy is playing a game—one that is about his own self-worth, and also his net worth. He enjoys the attention, enjoys being pursued, can’t stand to be out of the limelight, even if a job like, say, governor of New York he sees as beneath him. And stringing things out is a form of free advertising. “That can’t be bad for business,” says Jay Jacobs, chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee. “There is no upside for him to shoot it down, and there is a lot of upside for him to continue. But at the end of the day, I think the risks of running far outweigh for him the benefits. And I don’t think he’ll pull the trigger.”

The polls are telling a clear story. Republican congressman Pete King, a Giuliani ally, says the impact of another run on his business has come up in their conversations. “You take a year away from your business,” King says. “High-powered business clients rightly demand a lot of attention.”

And Jacobs points out a bigger business problem. “If he runs and doesn’t win, then the Giuliani brand has really lost a heck of a lot of value.”

In late July, Giuliani was the featured speaker at a breakfast in a midtown hotel. The event was treated as another testing of the political waters. But this time Rudy’s audience was not a political one. The breakfast was sponsored by Crain’s New York Business. Speaking before the room of dark-suited businessmen, Rudy was blithe and breezy—bashing liberals, gauging the economy, and condemning Albany’s dysfunction.

During the question-and-answer session, Rudy took a question about the New York GOP. What hope was there for the party if he didn’t run for governor, and if former governor George Pataki didn’t take on Gillibrand? Giuliani smiled. “There’s no question that if you have to rely on George Pataki and me, you’re in deep trouble,” he joked. “We should be moving forward with dynamic new candidates.”

Later, Rudy was asked whether he would, in fact, run for governor. He demurred as usual. But the event’s moderator, Crain’s editorial director Greg David, interjected, “Not only do you seem to be uncertain, it seems to me that you’re unprepared to run.”

Giuliani looked miffed. “I thought you were going to say based on my speech and my performance today, I seem to really know the issues really well.” But he didn’t call the comment unfair, or refute it exactly. “If I do decide to run,” he continued after a pause, “then I will think more deeply about the issues than I have.”

New Yorkers may be waiting quite a while for his wisdom.


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