“It’s just that there is no one really for him to do badly against,” said Mr. Rangel, managing to sound amazed. “He is competing with a worn-out television actor. It’s tragic.”
Mr. Rangel said that he was nevertheless confident that Mr. Giuliani’s fortunes would eventually decline, whether because of the incongruity of his social positions with those of the base of the Republican Party, or because of his unusually eventful family history.
Referring to Andrew Giuliani’s reportedly distant relationship with his father since the ugly bust-up of Mr. Giuliani’s marriage with Donna Hanover, Mr. Rangel said it was because “sons respect and admire their fathers, but they love their mothers against cheating goddamn husbands.”
And touching on another of Mr. Giuliani’s public difficulties—Mr. Giuliani’s close association with Bernard Kerik, the disgraced former police commissioner—Mr. Rangel said he regretted that all the personal problems surfaced so soon in the electoral process. “I’m sorry this damned thing turned out so early because, really, just like Kerik, it would have bombed his ass out,” said Mr. Rangel.
But Mr. Rangel said he still looked forward to Mr. Giuliani’s Republican opponents making an issue of his infidelity—“Romney could say, ‘I’m entitled to three wives,’” Mr. Rangel said—and said that when it came to abortion, “The church will take care of his ass all alone.”
Mr. Green, too, believed that there was still plenty of time for Mr. Giuliani to be done in by attacks on his record, a lesson he learned from “Swift Boat” victim John Kerry.
“As John Kerry told me, like it or not these things are often decided after Christmas and before Iowa,” said Mr. Green. “Giuliani has three huge hurdles to go. Kerik is about to be indicted, the religious far right is apparently for Romney over Giuliani and it’s hard to survive a fourth-place finish in Iowa.”
Randy Mastro, a former deputy mayor under Mr. Giuliani and an occasional spokesman for the campaign, professed to be completely unsurprised by the undiminishing intensity of the attacks. “This is like a scene out of Casablanca,” he said. “You’ve rounded up the usual suspects. They have been bashing Rudy Giuliani for years and their message has fallen on deaf ears because Rudy Giuliani transformed the city of New York, cut crime by historic proportions, cut taxes by billions, reduced the welfare rolls, brought hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs back and they just can’t get over that fact that he was the greatest mayor in city history.”
On the comments from Mr. Rangel about Mr. Giuliani’s personal life, Mr. Mastro said, “Comments like that are not worthy of a response.”
Not all of Mr. Giuliani’s old critics have been surprised by his improbable success so far.
Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, a onetime friend of the former mayor who went on to write an investigative biography of Mr. Giuliani as well as the unflattering Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, said he never doubted that Mr. Giuliani would go far.
“I always believed he would be the Republican nominee,” said Mr. Barrett, who thinks that the incredulity over Mr. Giuliani’s run is a specifically “New York view.”
“I bump into it all the time, even with my own book publisher, who didn’t take it seriously,” he said. “We don’t take it seriously because we know him too well.”
He added, “The only thing I can do is write about it and find some new things about Rudy. It’s not hard.”