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Rudolph Giuliani: Faith in work, God, and himself

The former New York mayor's sense of discipline, which stemmed from a childhood living with a devout Catholic father and attending parochial schools, has shaped his career in public service.

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"You never get a candidate you agree with 100 percent. I'm not even sure I agree with myself 100 percent," he says, smiling. "You have to look at the overall candidate and figure out who is electable, who can win."

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His attempt to mollify conservatives – which includes nuancing his longtime support for abortion rights – has also upset some old colleagues.

"There are core values that you do not stray from," says Ms. Reiter, who is supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. "On the issues he's doing it on – abortion rights and gun control – you have to ask, 'Is this pragmatic approach disingenuous and simply wrong?' "

Though Giuliani is tying his presidential credentials to his leadership during 9/11, not everyone thinks he was a hero. He has been criticized for insisting, over objections of some top staff, that New York's $16 million emergency-response center be located 23 stories up in 7 World Trade Center – a known terrorist target. Giuliani counters that was where the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department, and the Secret Service were located. And it was within walking distance from City Hall, which was important to him.

To critics, it's one of many cases when stubbornness and politics clouded his judgment.

"The weaknesses that were displayed that day built up during his mayoralty – there was nothing in eight years that showed any focus on terrorism," says Dan Collins, co-author of "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11," in a phone interview. "And now you see him assume this mantle of a terrorism expert on the presidential campaign that is almost wholly cut out of false cloth."

Some city firefighters, too, charge that Giuliani knew since the 1993 attack that the department's radios were problematic, yet did nothing about it. Had the radios worked properly, hundreds of firefighters might have lived, some say.

"It's disgusting for Rudy to campaign on 9/11. It devalues those lives – it's a fraud," says Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has endorsed Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) for president. "Rudy had nothing to do with the response that day. In fact, he hampered [it]. Because his command center failed, he had no single place to go and be in charge. Instead he was wandering around the streets."

Through a series of e-mails, the Giuliani campaign declined to comment on the firefighters' allegations.

An uneven temperament

Giuliani can be charming one moment and curt the next.

Campaigning last month at a NASCAR event in New Hampshire, he joked that Red Sox fans treat him better than Mets fans do, drawing laughs.

But he can also be dismissive, even rude. A day later in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he didn't like a reporter's question, grimaced, and walked away. Longtime Giuliani watchers say that's progress. In the past, he might simply have attacked the reporter as naive or the question as stupid.

"He's got quite a temper," says Mr. Muzzio, a leading New York political analyst. "In New York, everyone's on a 'Wait 'Til Rudy Explodes Watch,' and he's done a wonderful job of not doing that yet."

Indeed, Giuliani's temper is legendary. During a now infamous call-in radio show in May 2001, Giuliani told a caller concerned about a ban on walking ferrets in New York, "There is something deranged about you...." He regularly insulted reporters at City Hall press conferences. He told the media before he told his second wife and two children that the marriage was over.

People close to Giuliani say his bout with prostate cancer in 2000 and his happy marriage to third wife Judith Nathan four years ago have softened him.

Then there is 9/11, and, for Giuliani, the revelations about the world and himself that came with it. For several years before, he had increasingly leaned on Mychal Judge as a spiritual adviser. The Franciscan father, he says, had helped him to realize he had the ability to genuinely comfort people – almost as a priest would.

"Father Judge … was the person I leaned on the most," says Giuliani. "Not for the physical stuff, but the hardest stuff – trying to explain to people the loss of their father, the loss of their husband. He gave me the confidence that I could do that."