THE DRAMA KING
By DEVLIN BARRETTMarch 25, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - Plenty of people and politicians have skeletons in their closets. In the case of Rudy Giuliani, that closet is a walk-in.
There are plenty of episodes in the Republican former mayor's past that could come back to haunt him during his run for the presidency, scenes that played like a booming, angry opera.
"Rudy is a tough guy. Nobody has ever said he was Mr. Congeniality. It's not always pretty to look at, but he got the job done," said Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island), who backed Sen. John McCain in 2000 but now supports Giuliani.
So far, most of the major players in Giuliani's past public sagas have stayed silent. And that could be worth more to him than any endorsement.
Skeleton No. 1 is his last police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, once nominated by President Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security.
His close association with Giuliani became radioactive when Kerik pleaded guilty last June to a misdemeanor of accepting a gift from a company seeking city work.
Kerik acknowledged accepting $165,000 in renovations on his Bronx apartment from a company attempting to land city contracts but never explicitly admitted that his efforts on behalf of the firm were tied to the work on his home.
He is still under investigation.
Skeleton No. 2 is Giuliani's first police commissioner, William Bratton, now the police chief in Los Angeles.
Working for Giuliani, Bratton began the reforms that led to historic crime reductions and helped turn tawdry Times Square into a Disney-certified tourist destination.
Bratton's forced departure from New York in 1996 began a debate that goes on even now: Does the credit Giuliani claims for the crime reduction really belong to Bratton?
Skeleton No. 3 is Giuliani's first wife, Regina Peruggi. They married in 1968. He had the marriage annulled in 1982 on the grounds that they were second cousins once removed.
Skeleton No. 4 is Donna Hanover, his second wife. Their painfully public separation at the end of his time as mayor seriously damaged his image but has since been overshadowed by his performance in the wake of 9/11.
Each of the above four, through aides, declined comment.
But cracks have already appeared in the candidate's public veneer.
Andrew Giuliani, a college student, recently acknowledged being essentially estranged from his famous father and said he had "a little problem" with his dad's current wife - his stepmother.
Judith Giuliani also revealed that, contrary to years of published reports, this is her third, not her second, marriage.
Rudy Giuliani attended a California congressman's rally yesterday and responded to a reporter's questions about the third man.
"I've already answered all the questions I'm going to answer about that," he said. "Period. It's history."
Indeed, after his son spoke out, Giuliani asked that his family be allowed to resolve its issues in private. AP