“People sometimes ask me what the biggest perk of being president is. No. 1 is the plane. ”
Rudolph W. Giuliani
As the often-controversial mayor of New York from 1993 to 2001 and as a candidate for senator in 2000 against Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rudy Giuliani was not unknown outside the tri-state area of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. But it was the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that thrust Giuliani inexorably into the world's spotlight. His leadership of the city during that day and the weeks and months that followed earned him the affection of New Yorkers and the admiration of many people worldwide. Time magazine selected him as "Person of the Year" for 2001 and Queen Elizabeth II knighted him.
When I asked Mayor Giuliani what he considered his proudest moment, he said, "I don't know if it was my proudest moment, but my most complex and difficult moment was dealing with September 11th. That wasn't a moment-it was a four-month period. It was way beyond anything we or anybody else expected. We had to take everything we knew and try to apply it, imperfectly, but as best we could to an unthinkable situation-at least up until that time, unthinkable."
Giuliani's book, Leadership, published in 2002, covers much about his life and how he dealt with 9/11 as mayor. It earned him a $2.7 million advance.
Mayor Giuliani, what is your main focus now?
I really divide my life into four segments: building my two businesses, Bracewell & Giuliani [a law firm with offices in Texas, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Dubai, Kazakhstan and London that he joined in 2005] and Giuliani Partners [a New York consulting firm specializing in security that he founded in January 2002]; speaking for the Washington Speakers Bureau; and the fourth is politics. Yesterday, I did three radio calls for John McCain and an appearance on Fox for him. Tonight I'm doing a fund raiser for Senator Coleman of Minnesota. As we get closer to the election, politics will probably take over a bit more time. When I'm in New York, I spend half a day at Giuliani Partners and the other half at [the Manhattan offices of] Bracewell & Giuliani. It's a five-minute walk [between them], and I often do walk.
Do people recognize you when you're walking?
In New York, of course they recognize me. I was the mayor, and before that I was a United States Attorney here for five and a half years. Because New Yorkers go around the United States, I'm recognized basically all over. The first time we traveled to Australia, people there knew who I was. People in Japan will stop me in the street. They'll say, "You were the mayor of New York," or, "You ran for President."
I know you fly privately a lot now, but did you use private transportation as mayor?
I used the NYC police helicopter to go to emergencies. If there was a fire, say in Staten Island, I would take a helicopter. If there was a police shooting and it was going to be hard to get to because of traffic, I would take a helicopter. I used it quite a bit after September 11th to go to funerals because some of the police officers and firefighters lived in the suburbs.
This sounds like one of the leadership principles that you talk about in your book: to see things yourself.
I believe that in order to manage a project or an emergency, ideally you should see it and not just have it described to you. I was taught that by one of the first investigators I ever worked with, Carl Bogan. He said any case you ever work on you go to the scene. Go look at it. All of a sudden, things will emerge, like people will say they saw something. You will realize there's a big pole right in the way of where that person said he was standing, or the lighting is terrible, or the sun is shining right in the eyes of the people who say they saw it.
After you left the mayor's office, what started you flying privately?
Most of my flying on private aircraft has been for speaking engagements and business travel. Then that carried over to my campaign, because you can do so many more things. There were days when I gave two or three speeches in places where if I tried to do it by commercial aviation, I would have given those speeches over a three- or four-day period. So by using private airplanes, I think I'm three times more productive. During the campaign, sometimes I had nine or ten events a day. You just can't do that on commercial flights.
In your Washington Speakers Bureau contract, you specify the Gulfstream IV or larger aircraft. Why is that?
Well, because we take very long trips, like to California. If it's a shorter trip, we don't. Going overseas we will use commercial a lot. If we're going overseas in a private jet, it has to be a good-size airplane.
Is it because of the cost that you sometimes travel by airline?
Actually, it's because the schedule works out OK. The reason for me to use private aircraft is to do three to four things in a day. If I was going to Washington for the full day, I'd just as easily take Amtrak. But suppose I have to go to Washington; Lexington, Kentucky; then Las Vegas-to give a talk at 6 o'clock. I would need a private aircraft to do that.
I read that during your campaign you spent $565,000 to reimburse corporate suppliers of aircraft and $800,000 for charter aircraft.
When we started, the rules were that you could reimburse, I believe, at [the price of] a first-class [airline] ticket. And then in the midst of the campaign it changed and you had to pay the full charter rate. So we complied with the rules.
Do you think the current rule is fair?
I guess in the abstract the rule is fair. But considered against the contribution limit, it's unrealistic. Not just because of the airplane expenses, but because of all the expenses of a presidential campaign. The limit on contributions, $2,300 per person, is unrealistically low. It just means thousands more people that you need to get contributions from, and hundreds more hours that have to be spent doing fund-raising rather than having a town hall meeting or an interview with the press or giving a speech. It's like increasing the expenses of a business in the middle of the business' year and not allowing the business to increase what it charges for something.
How much do you travel?
Since I left being mayor up until the time I ran for president, we counted about 90 trips to 34 or 35 countries. That would be from 2002 to the beginning of 2007. And I should emphasize I did a lot more domestic speaking than I did foreign. Some of the trips were for business.
Do you have a favorite seat in the airplane?
Usually in the front on the left-hand side. If somebody else prefers it, I'll move over to the right-hand side.
Looking forward. I always like looking forward in
an airplane and I love looking out the window. And I do a lot of reading.
Do you fly with the same number of security people when you're on a private jet and on an airliner?
The number is confidential and depends not so much if you're traveling private or commercial, but on the security assessment of where we're going.
At your endorsement of Senator McCain, he said, "My strong right arm, my partner, my friend in this effort [leading the nation against the threat of Islamic extremism] will be the former mayor of New York City, an American hero, Rudy Guiliani." That sounds like you might have a good shot at a cabinet-level post or even the vice presidency.
I have no aspirations and no expectations of any of those things. My support for John McCain comes from my concern about the country and I can demonstrate that to you because I announced my support of John McCain when I thought I was going to beat him. I think his character, his heroism, his understanding of physical discipline-all these things make him a very strong candidate for president. I dropped out with a clear thought that if I stayed in any longer, maybe I would hurt his chances.
So, if he asked you to serve in his Administration...
We would have that conversation. But I'm going to work very, very hard for him because I don't think I can emphasize enough how important I think the difference is between him and his two Democratic opponents for the future of this country.
Why do you think that your run for the nomination ran out of steam?
I'll probably write a book about that someday, when I get a chance to assess the whole thing. I don't know, really. There are a hundred reasons that you could speculate about: money or bad timing or maybe other candidates, particularly John, doing so well. He was particularly the candidate that if he did well, I wouldn't, and vice versa.
Would you consider running for President again?
You never rule things out, but it's not something I'm thinking about right now. I'm solely focused on getting John elected and on building my firms.
What about mayor of New York or senator?
I'm not thinking about any of those things.
Why did you run for president?
Because I thought the country needed someone who understood the challenge we face and had a very conceptual view of how to do it. And I thought we needed someone who had a good deal of experience managing a complex economy. New York City was in very, very bad shape when I took it over. And when people think of me, they think of September 11th [and] of turning around the city from the point of view of crime. But many people don't know that I also turned around the economy in the city and that was a big part of what I did.
Your career and life have not been without controversy. I've heard you say you "like to take life as a boxer, never take a punch without swinging back." How do you handle controversy?
I handle it. If you're going to take on things and try to change them, you're going to have controversy because the minute you're talking about taking on something and changing it, there are people who don't want you to change it. People will get angry at you for it, so I've always seen it as part of the price you pay for what you want to achieve.
What motivates you now?
What motivates me now-and part of the reason I enjoy so much what I'm doing-is that I do a tremendous amount of work in helping to develop things that can make people more secure and still maintain their freedom.
You've said that you were not a different person after 9/11. You knew how to handle things before 9/11, you had your team and you knew how to deal with emergencies.
You can't become a different person in the middle of an emergency. I think you rise to the occasion or it overwhelms you, but it's still you. But now on a spiritual level, September 11th has changed me, and so did going through prostate cancer. It's made me more reflective. You realize a lot of the petty disputes that go on are meaningless and silly. It's given life a different view for me. You know what's really important. It hasn't made me a totally different human being. I pretty much function the same way now as I did then, but I think with a lot more perspective.
Name: Rudolph W. Giuliani
Occupation: Business executive, lawyer, inspirational speaker, author, Republican fund-raiser, former presidential candidate.
Education: New York University Law School, 1968; Manhattan College, 1965.
Personal: Lives in Manhattan with wife Judith. Two children by an earlier marriage.