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Giuliani goes to bat for wife in TV interview

He says she'll be welcome at Cabinet meetings if he's elected.

March 30, 2007|Craig Gordon | Newsday

WASHINGTON — Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani says in an interview airing tonight on ABC that he is open to having his wife sit in on Cabinet meetings if he is elected president.

Giuliani said he would allow Judith Nathan to attend the meetings "if she wanted to, if they were relevant to something that she was interested in. I mean, that would be something that I'd be very, very comfortable with."

During the interview with Barbara Walters, which rehashes the sometimes messy details of the couple's marriages, Giuliani took pains to defend his third wife, saying she did not break up his second marriage, to Donna Hanover, and wasn't responsible for a chill in relations between Giuliani and his 21-year-old son, Andrew.

"I think I should be very, very clear that she was not the cause of the breakup in any way at all," said Giuliani, who did not elaborate on what did break up the marriage.

Nathan acknowledged that it was difficult to be seen as the other woman in Giuliani's life. She said the fact that she and Giuliani met while he was still married had created a "rocky road" but that they overcame it.

The interview comes amid fresh scrutiny of Giuliani's personal life in light of revelations last week that Nathan had a previously unknown first marriage, dating to 1974, making Giuliani her third husband. Some evangelical Christian leaders have said that Giuliani's three marriages would make it difficult for him to win the support of religious Republican voters.

Nathan denies that she purposely kept details of her first marriage hidden and says she decided to talk about it now as part of the process of Giuliani's campaign.

"I think they call it in the political world being rolled out publicly," she said.

Giuliani said his wife would make a good first lady and praised her actions during Sept. 11 and afterward.

"Nobody will ever know all the things she did to get me and the city through Sept. 11. She said, 'I'm not leaving your side....' And I said, 'OK, well, if you're going to be here, you're going to go to work,' " Giuliani recalled, saying that he put her in charge of getting information from the hospitals in the city and later named her to the board of the Twin Towers Fund.

Giuliani's comments were reminiscent of those by Bill Clinton in 1992, who suggested that a vote for him would be a twofer for the country because it would also get his wife, Hillary. That ultimately caused problems for Clinton because of his wife's leadership on a healthcare overhaul plan that failed.

Giuliani acknowledged that voters might look at divorce in evaluating a candidate but said he believed they would also take into account a candidate's accomplishments.

"None of us, at least I don't think any of us, have perfect lives," he said. "I can say very credibly to people: 'Judge me by my public performance. Whatever mistakes I've made in my personal life, I made. I'm sorry for them.' "

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