Giuliani Swift Boated by Firefighters
Some New York City firefighters are trying to Swift Boat Rudy Giuliani, ABC News’ Rick Klein reports.
“America’s Mayor” is about to come under attack. The nation’s largest firefighters union is set to launch a video on Wednesday that seeks to tarnish former mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s reputation as a strong leader before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The 13-minute video — set for distribution to firefighters and the general public courtesy of the International Association of Fire Fighters — uses interviews with New York City firefighters and families of 9/11 victims to argue that Giuliani has exaggerated his record as mayor. “He’s running on his 9/11 leadership and it was lacking — and there was none,” Jim Riches, a deputy chief in the New York Fire Department and a father of one of the 9/11 victims, says on the video, according to a transcript obtained by ABC News. “I blame Giuliani. He was the leader that day. And he was the leader for the eight years leading up to that.”
The documentary-style video — titled “Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend” — specifically criticizes Giuliani for failing to ensure that firefighters had working radios; placing the city emergency command center in the World Trade Center even after the 1993 terrorist attack at the Twin Towers; and Giuliani’s decision to abandon efforts to recover remains of dead firefighters as he sought a quick clean-up of Ground Zero.
While I fully agree that Giuliani has gotten far too much credit for his role in the aftermath of 9/11 (as well as some other things), this particular set of criticisms is rather absurd. Surely, it’s not the mayor’s responsibility to test firefighter equipment. And it’s certainly reasonable enough to try to get the nation’s largest city working again rather than delaying it to recover dead bodies.
The decision to keep the command center atop the Towers is more problematic, I think, although there may have been sound logistical reasons for doing so.
The Giuliani campaign has faced such criticism before and has dismissed it as politically motivated griping from a union that has aligned itself with Democrats in the past. But the firefighters’ union — which had a testy relationship with Giuliani throughout his eight years as mayor — is seeking to dramatize its argument with a video that will be available to its 280,000 members as well as the public at large.
Given how much the NYPD and NYFD were lionized after 9/11, with everyone wearing t-shirts emblazoned with their logos, this can’t help Giuliani’s campaign. My guess, though, is that he’ll manage to weather it with the same responses he’s used in the past. Indeed, he may be able to get a boost by capitalizing on a pretty strong anti-union sentiment that exists within the Republican base.
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