The reviews of Rudy Giuliani’s performance on Meet the Press are largely positive, saying the mayor emerged relatively unscathed after a bout of aggressive questioning. Topics that surfaced included his ties to the embattled Bernie Kerik, his questionable legal clients, and his use of a tax-payer funded security detail to protect his then-mistress, now wife, Judith Nathan. But perhaps the most potent liability for the Giuliani campaign is the mayor’s short temper and abrasive personality. So far through the campaign, Giuliani has kept his belligerent side under wraps and presented his softer side to voters. Yet, if elected, would he maintain his friendly demeanor? Unlikely.
We go back to 2000, six years into his command over New York City. A Quinnipiac poll reveals his approval rating at 37%, nearing President Bush’s abominable numbers. Only 27% thought Giuliani had a likable personality, and only 32% thought he worked well with other political leaders. And even though Giuliani constantly touts his crime reduction policies, a bare majority approved of the way he handled crime. On the flip side, 80% thought he could “get things done.” Nonetheless, the mayor’s pugnacious attitude serves to continue the polarization and gridlock now synonymous with Washington. Qualms about his personality are rightly justified, even if he has managed to soothe them for the past year.