Giuliani lends his support in Md. races

Former New York mayor to appear Nov. 3 for GOP

Stars in radio ad for Morella

Election 2002

October 24, 2002|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

Rudolph W. Giuliani is starring in an ad running on 15 radio stations throughout the Washington area, urging voters to return Bethesda Republican Constance A. Morella to Congress. He is planning to lend his name to a fund-raiser and share a Maryland stage with two other prominent members of the GOP -- including the gubernatorial candidate -- just two days before the coming election.

In the past week, Giuliani has been in Minnesota, headlining a fund-raising luncheon for Norm Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor and GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. The event raised $500,000. And then he went to Tennessee, where he stumped for the Republican candidate for governor, Rep. Van Hilleary -- and earned a quarter-million dollars for that campaign.

As Nov. 5 approaches, Giuliani is wherever his party needs him. He has gone from well-known politician to unlikely superstar, sharing the A-list with such fund-raising powerhouses as President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who have raised more than $150 million for the party and its candidates.

The former mayor of New York, whose popularity reached new heights in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, is out of elective office. In 2 1/2 years, he has gone from a peevish politician fighting prostate cancer and battling his wife in an ugly public breakup to one of the most-coveted fund-raisers on the 2002 election circuit.

"Rudy Giuliani is, with the exception of President Bush, probably the most sought-after public figure in the country," said Dan Ronayne, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "He's a household name. He's someone people want to come out and see and shake hands with."

There are no figures available for how much money Giuliani has raised for the GOP, analysts said, but the amount is significant. He has made two dozen political appearances, and, with less than two weeks before Election Day, he is expected to make more.

On Nov. 3, Giuliani is scheduled to be in Maryland. The details need to be worked out, but he is expected to raise money for Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the Republican candidate for governor, and Helen Delich Bentley, who is running for Ehrlich's seat in Congress.

"The great thing about Giuliani is, when he comes in there's no partisan negativity, which there can be with a president," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. "Everyone loves Rudy. He's the hit of the party, the hit of the fund-raiser."

When the president or vice president visits, there are metal detectors, security clearances and the Secret Service -- along with the solemnity of having a head of state on hand. With Giuliani, it's a more festive occasion.

Said Luntz: "Rudy will sign autographs."

Giuliani was traveling and unavailable for comment, his spokeswoman said. But Tony Carbonetti, Giuliani's chief of staff as mayor and the managing director of his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, said his boss is out on the campaign trail trying to pay back people who stumped for him when he needed their help.

"If you ask him, he says he's repaying old debts," Carbonetti said a week ago, shortly after the Coleman fund-raiser. "He's fully committed to helping the Republicans win the Senate and keep the House.

"We always got a lot of requests [for Giuliani to appear], and now we're getting even more than a lot," he said.

But Giuliani isn't taking all invitations, Carbonetti said. "America's Mayor," as he has been dubbed, is going where he can make a difference.

With so few days left before the election, Carbonetti said last week, "you go where you can pick up a seat here and there."

Giuliani hasn't always been this popular with his party. In 1994, he angered many Republicans in New York when he endorsed then-Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, a Democrat, instead of the eventual winner, Republican George E. Pataki. This year Giuliani was a headliner at a major fund-raiser for Pataki and other state Republicans.

His recent travels haven't only been about the future of his party. He speaks to private organizations, charging large fees, reportedly $100,000 a pop. He appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman last week. He is on a book tour -- his Leadership is the No. 1 nonfiction book in the country. His consulting firm announced a $4.3 million deal with Mexico City last week to clean up that city as he did in New York.

But it hasn't always been this way for Giuliani. The former prosecutor long had a contentious relationship with the New York tabloids. Soon after he announced he had prostate cancer in 2000, he told the press he was splitting up with his wife, television personality Donna Hanover -- before he told her, she contended. He later pulled out of what would have been a difficult and expensive race against Hillary Rodham Clinton for Senate.

Giuliani boosted his image with the strength and leadership he displayed after the terror attacks in September last year. He left office because of term limits a few months later, riding a crest of popularity. In recent days, a seemingly mellower Giuliani has been sporting a new hairdo and has spoken of marrying his longtime girlfriend.

"Public attention can turn overnight, and it literally did for him," said Steven C. Weiss, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks spending in elections. "But it's irrelevant what his appeal has been in the past. A candidate looking for Giuliani to appear only cares about his appeal right here and now.

"He's not just a former politician."

Sun staff writer Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.

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