Republicans today basked in the afterglow of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the candidate they like to point to as Mr. Accountability, who raised money in New Jersey yesterday for his presidential campaign.
"The mayor doesn’t just say ‘I was tough on crime over my eight years in office,’" says Giuliani campaign spokesman Jeff Barker. "He’s out there with the record. Crime was reduced by 56%; murder reduced by 66%. He doesn’t just say, ‘I’m tough on taxes.’ He reduced or eliminated taxes by 23 times."
If Gov. Jon Corzine is a manager with a heart who’s depicted by Republicans as ultimately too crumble-prone in the presence of old hands Senate President Richard Codey and Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, Giuliani, says the GOP, comes across as a results-oriented tough guy who doesn’t get pushed around. According to yesterday's Quinnipiac University poll, it’s not just Republicans who see Giuliani as morally strong. New Jersey voters say 56 – 27% that Giuliani "makes decisions based on his principles rather than on what the voters think is best."
"Giuliani’s got a type A-personality," says Morris County GOP Chairman John Sette. "He’s like that pitbull that keeps pursuing something until he gets what he wants. He’s more intense than Corzine."
They aren’t entirely different, Corzine and Giuliani, and clearly their northeastern associations make them closer than Giuliani is to Bible-belting Republican GOP candidates. Public representatives of ethnically diverse constituencies, Corzine and Giuliani are both pro-choice, and support gay rights.
Delighted by the former New York mayor’s record on taxes and crime as an antidote to tax and spend liberals, moderate New Jersey Republicans say Giuliani is the right candidate to carry a nationwide message.
"There are few people among Democrats and Republicans who don’t believe in being fiscally conservative," says GOP Assembly Whip Jon Bramnick, a Giuliani supporter and potential 2008 U.S. Senate candidate. "But as Republicans we must also be tolerant of other people instead of giving this impression that we’re absolutely right, indignant, and incapable of listening. When you set that up and say this is the way you must be, it’s right around that time that something like what happened with Larry Craig happens and people say about Republicans, ‘They preach one thing and act another way."
Democrats say Giuliani’s resistance to significant pay increases and strengthened pensions for police, fire and emergency service workers during his tenure will pursue and damage him in a general election, and argue that his so-called tolerance masks hawk-like foreign policy tendencies – not Corzine’s problems, though state spending still haunts him.