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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Giuliani firm among the ruins
Rudy Giuliani
With New York still devastated after Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the city's Mayor Rudy Giuliani has impressed television viewers around the world by his response. Chris Jones of the BBC's News Profiles Unit considers the man behind the public facade.

In those first few hours of bewilderment, and the following days of grief and horror, New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been at the centre of events, ensuring practical help, identifying with the suffering of the city's people, offering hope and reassurance for the future.

On the day of the disaster that changed the skyline of the Big Apple, he ventured so close to the chaos that had been the World Trade Center that he had to be ushered away, dust on his shoulders. The next day he returned, wearing a surgical mask.

Jerry Hauer, the head of Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management, says: "I've been in the disaster business for a long time, and frankly, there are few elected officials as good as him".

By a strange coincidence, on the day of the tragedy, the Democrats and Republicans were to have held primary elections to select their candidates to replace Giuliani, a contest abruptly postponed.

Giuliani, 57, will vacate City Hall on December 31, after eight years, barred from running for a third term.

Mr Giuliani donning a mask near the wreckage of the World Center
Mr Giuliani in solidarity with New Yorkers
His successor will struggle to match his achievements.

Born in Brooklyn to a working-class family, the grandson of Italian immigrants, he graduated from law school and climbed the legal ladder until he made headlines as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Spearheading the effort to jail drug dealers, mobsters and white-collar criminals, he secured more than 4,000 convictions and lost only 25 cases. He was elected Mayor in 1993, on a ticket focussing on the quality of life, crime, business and education. He was re-elected in 1997.

In his eight-year tenure, Giuliani has disproved a popular notion that New York is ungovernable. The dangers of the City's streets were once notorious, but crime has been cut by half and the murder rate by 70 per cent.

For the past five years, the FBI has rated New York as the safest large city in America. Single women wander without fear at night, the city is cleaner and Times Square is no longer a centre of sleaze.

Mayor Giuliani has also cut welfare rolls in half while moving more than 640,000 individuals from dependency on the government to what he describes as "the dignity of self-sufficiency".

Times Square at night
Times Square: sleazy no more
But shoddy public schools and a lack of public housing stand out as Giuliani failures. Moreover, minorities, particularly poor blacks and Hispanics, are wary of his attack-first, ask-questions-later style.

He and his office have been ruthless in nullifying opponents and sidelining anyone who did not share his enthusiasm for his policies.

Police chief William Bratton was widely credited with the success of Giuliani's now-famous "zero-tolerance" policing methods, so much so that he was perceived as a high-profile rival, and eventually replaced.

The Mayor, with his hunched shoulders, combed-over hair and a smile characterised by his critics as "Satanic", is generally respected, but not liked.

And there have been times toward the end of Giuliani's reign that he would have preferred a lower profile. With the end of his second marriage, Giuliani was forced to leave his official residence and told by a judge he could no longer visit with his girlfriend while his wife and children continued to live there.

Despite his reputation, he is broadly liberal on gay issues, abortion and immigration, and he now lives in the spare room of an apartment belonging to two gay friends.

Giuliani says he has cancer
A rare moment of vulnerability
He won widespread sympathy and admiration when he announced last year that he had prostate cancer. This was a Mayor admitting a degree of vulnerability and uncertainty, while still maintaining his dignity.

Had he not been laid low by events, he might have beaten Hillary Clinton in last year's New York Senate race. Had George Bush lost the White House contest, it seems Giuliani might have sought the Presidency in 2004.

Before New York's worst-ever tragedy, Rudy Giuliani told its people that the City was on the rise, full of optimism and confidence that its best days were still ahead. Hours after its most savage blow, he urged citizens to "rise above the anger and hatred to recover from this tragedy".

With inspiring leadership and a unity strengthened by their ordeal, there is little doubt that they will.


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