The Rudy Giuliani Conservatives

“There were certain psychological barriers to embracing Rudy Giuliani at that point,” said Mr. Mone in a conference room decorated with framed issues of City Journal and bookshelves that a bookstore might label as “Conservative Urban Planning.” “He had a reputation of prosecuting people on Wall Street, and there was an impression that he might be another John Lindsay, another liberal Republican, that he wasn’t really conservatively oriented.”

Four years later, however, Mr. Giuliani entered the fold at the behest of Mr. Siegel, then the editor of City Journal.

Mr. Siegel, who had supported David Dinkins for mayor (in 1989, against Rudy Giuliani), saw New York on the threshold of total ruin. Appalled by the disorder overrunning his own Brooklyn neighborhood, Mr. Siegel says he actually approached Mr. Dinkins in the winter of 1991, begging him to consider an approach to policing that targeted the symptoms of disorder rather than attempting to remedy sociological root causes.

“All I got was incredulity,” said Mr. Siegel. “He doesn’t believe that policing has any effect on crime.”

Dismayed, Mr. Siegel attached himself to Mr. Giuliani’s nascent second bid for office as a senior adviser, and watched as the former U.S. attorney educated himself.

“Rudy at this time is studying,” said Mr. Siegel. “He gives himself the academic equivalent of a full baptist immersion.”

“At some point,” he added, “all the dots connect, and they all come from the Manhattan Institute.”

That point in question seems to have been a conference in March of 1992 at the Roosevelt Hotel, with writers from a seminal edition of City Journal (the one Mr. Giuliani would eventually wave onstage at Cipriani) lecturing on how to turn the city around.

“Rudy came to that conference himself,” recalled Mr. Mone. “And sat there as a guest, and just started taking copious notes, just like a graduate student seminar.”

Mr. Giuliani then received personal tutelage from the “broken windows” criminologist George Kelling, who met privately with him and his staff for what Mr. Kelling called “service training.” The meetings, he said, went long.

“He was different from his persona,” remembered Mr. Kelling. “His persona was very forbidding, strident. In the meeting he was very attentive. He wasn’t like most politicians disassociating half the time.”

At a certain point in the lesson, Mr. Giuliani asked Mr. Kelling to set up a meeting between himself and William Bratton, the chief of New York City’s transit police and another leader in the broken windows school of policing. Mr. Bratton went on to become Mr. Giuliani’s police commissioner.

“In terms of crime control, he was a dream come true,” said Mr. Kelling, who supports Mr. Giuliani’s presidential candidacy. “For me, how many academics get their ideas tested in full view and consistently in New York City?”

Along with his performance on Sept. 11, cutting crime in New York has become Mr. Giuliani’s principal calling card as he campaigns around the country. But he also owes his ideas in other key areas to the institute.

Mr. Giuliani bought wholesale the institute’s argument that the key to turning around public higher education was by demanding higher standards for admission and promotion, a practice he instituted in the CUNY school system. He adopted the institute’s thinking that welfare led to a breakdown in the city’s social and economic fabric, and eventually stripped the city’s welfare rolls. After reading the institute’s papers and articles in favor of school vouchers, he changed the policies of his administration.

“Rudy’s thinking evolved,” Mr. Mone said. “He said, you know, vouchers need to be part of the solution to this.”

Not all of the institute’s ideas stuck, at least not initially. According to Mr. Siegel, Mr. Giuliani participated in private seminars in 1992 about privatizing hospitals and health care, but judged the problem too complicated and unrealistic to tackle.

But for the most part, Mr. Giuliani’s agenda read like a volume of City Journal, and as crime fell, order increased and the city entered a period of rebirth, liberals all of a sudden started looking at the group of oddball conservatives with more respect.

“It’s enormously gratifying,” said Mr. Mone. “The transformation is palpable and you understand your role in it.”

Mr. Siegel says that while Mr. Giuliani used the Manhattan Institute’s ideas to govern, he suspects that the former mayor’s allegiance to the institute during the campaign has limits.

“This is a very different kind of campaign than when he runs for mayor in 1993,” said Mr. Siegel. “Then, there is no Republican Party, he is free, he has a marvelous freedom to shape his own agenda. He doesn’t have to attach himself to a whole national apparatus with a whole set of regional issues that are different. Running for president is about coalition-building.”

Very different indeed.