WASHINGTON — Rudolph W. Giuliani's image as 9/11 mayor took a double hit Monday as he lost a key endorsement from the Sept. 11 commission chair to a rival, and New York firefighters and families of victims of the terrorist attacks took their campaign against him to New Hampshire.
Adding to the bad news for Giuliani was a new poll showing that his support in New Hampshire dropped from 24% of GOP voters in September to 16% this month as Mitt Romney widened his from 25% to 33%. The University of New Hampshire poll for CNN and WMUR radio has a 5 percentage-point margin of error.
But Giuliani also began kicking his campaign into higher gear as he started running his second television ad. Aimed at the New Hampshire market, it strongly hints at his Sept. 11 attacks experience as he touts his leadership skills in times of stress.
Yet it was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who won the endorsement of Tom Kean, the Sept. 11 commission chairman and former Republican New Jersey governor in a news briefing at Boston's Logan International Airport. That was the departure point for the jets that crashed into the World Trade Center.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, November 23, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Rudolph W. Giuliani: An article in Tuesday's Section A about the former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate being pilloried by New York firefighters and families of 9/11 victims said the critics had met at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire. It is Dartmouth College.
"To the extent that we've been less vulnerable to attacks that we suffered on 9/11, it's in a large part due to the extraordinary leadership of John McCain," Kean said.
Giuliani's campaign responded by noting that Kean's son, Tom Jr., has endorsed Giuliani.
Meanwhile, the firefighters and families held a town hall meeting at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, where they accused the former mayor of failing to prepare for the attacks and bungling the response.
"The people in the audience were shocked at what they heard," said Jim Riches, a New York Fire Department deputy chief and a union official.
He said the International Assn. of Firefighters, families of Sept. 11 victims and others would have a post-Thanksgiving "sit down" to decide if they want to set up a so-called 527 committee, named after a section in the federal tax code, for a national ad campaign.
In response, Giuliani aide Howard Safir, who headed the city's fire and police departments, said in a statement: "It's unconscionable that a front group for the highly partisan IAFF is now turning the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 into a political football."
Riches pointed out that he lost his son in the attacks. He called the statement "insulting."