Giuliani: 'We're going to get through this'
(CNN) -- New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been going almost non-stop since the September 11 attacks that destroyed his city's World Trade Center, doing everything from comforting families to promoting what New York has to offer. CNN anchor Paula Zahn spoke to the mayor Wednesday morning in advance of President Bush's trip to visit the city.
ZAHN: President Bush is heading to New York today, where he will talk to business leaders about the ailing economy here and have lunch with Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
And the mayor joins me now with more on the city's ongoing recovery from the tragedy of September 11. Good to have you with us this morning, sir.
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, R-NEW YORK CITY: It's nice to see you.
ZAHN: Thank you.
So what are you going to ask the president for today?
GIULIANI: I'm just going to thank the president for the support that he's given us. There's no reason to ask the president for anything. He's given us everything we've wanted. He's anticipated, his administration is in constant communication with us, asking us what they can do, how they can help. The governor and I have complete and open access with the White House and the president.
So this is really to help us more than anything else, to come here and talk about the economy, talk to our business leaders and talk about the plan for the continued recovery of the economy, because it's really bounced back pretty significantly in the last week.
And also, he's going to visit with some firefighters and have lunch with them. ... It's really him coming to us and bolstering everything up, which is what the president does so well.
ZAHN: But this is coming at a time when the city's projected budget gap has more than doubled, and then there is word in The New York Times that you're going to have to start curtailing spending in many different departments. Are you going to ask the president for more money today?
GIULIANI: When we made the original request, we made it clear that that was just a beginning. In other words, that that was just a small percentage of what would be needed for the overall recovery. ... We've had like four or five meetings in the White House already going over all this.
So it really isn't necessary to ask the president. I mean the president understands that this is going to be a very, very expensive thing to bring the city back. But it's the core of the American economy and in order to make sure that it recovers properly, it's going to require federal help, state help and city help.
I read some of those articles earlier this morning and they've got to -- they've got to kind of balance the doom and gloom a little. I mean the reality is the economy of this city is very strong. It's very vibrant. We need help, but America needs help right now and we're going to get through this. People should lift their eyes up a little bit, not have them, you know, kind of down so much.
ZAHN: But at the same time, you're having to spend some $40 million to encourage tourists to come back into the city ...
GIULIANI: Forty ...
ZAHN: ... to spend, spend, spend. Did we get that number right? $40 million, right?
GIULIANI: Well, that's -- the city isn't spending that. ... The city isn't spending $40 million. Those are all private groups that are spending that money on encouraging people to come back. The city's portion of that, I don't know, maybe it's a couple of million. ... The city is not spending $40 million on advertising.
ZAHN: But explain to the American public ... even though you said that the economy has bounced back a little in the last week, just how desperate some of the hotels are in town and all of those services related to the tourist industry.
GIULIANI: Nobody's desperate. Nobody's desperate. Nobody's desperate.
ZAHN: Ten percent occupancy is not great, is it, Mr. Mayor?
GIULIANI: Don't use that word. Bad word: desperate, doom, gloom, all of this. That may be the very reason why the economy is having a little bit of trouble coming back, because everybody is in this doom and gloom mode. The reality is that the hotels are about 70 to 80 percent of what they were last year at this time. I think that's a significant bounce back compared to what people thought was possible three weeks ago.
I was on Times Square on Saturday and there were lots of people there and here's the point, I think, to make to people. If you want to show that we can stand up to these terrorists, that they can't frighten us, they can't affect us, that Americans are just too tough to be affected by that, well, then come to New York and make that point. Come here. Come here and enjoy it. Great restaurants. The best plays in the world. We've got a team headed for the playoffs and we've got great sports. So you come to New York and make that point.
There must have been at least a hundred people on Times Square who came up to me and said I'm from Oklahoma or I'm from Los Angeles, I'm from Chicago, I'm from Seattle. I'm in New York to make a point. And I knew the point they were making. So I think that'd be a great thing. And that would get the economy right back to where it should be.
ZAHN: I wanted to talk about you for a moment, very quickly. A Quinnipiac poll came out showing that your popularity now rests at 90 percent, although voters seem to be divided on the notion of allowing for legislation to let you run a third time around. Have you come to any conclusions?
GIULIANI: Have I come to any conclusions on what to do?
ZAHN: Whether you'll attempt to run again?
GIULIANI: I'm going to do whatever the legislative leaders think is the right thing to do. So really this isn't just my decision. If it's helpful to have a longer transition and it assists in making sure that this is a seamless transition of probably the most complex thing the city has gone through, then I'm willing to do that. So I don't want to support that. I'm obviously not going to push that. My desire is to try to unify the city, not create a source of division.
ZAHN: So if the mayoral thing doesn't work out, how about running the Port Authority? There's a lot of talk about you'll possibly be giving that a shot.
GIULIANI: I haven't focused on a next job yet. It's been a full-time -- and more than full-time -- job focusing on the day-to-day recovery (and) relief, making decisions about how we recover as many people as possible, making decisions about how to readjust the budget and then every day going to funerals and wakes, in some cases for personal friends. So that's really been the focus of my attention, not the next job or the political stuff, which almost seems insignificant right now.
ZAHN: Yes, I think it's been very painful for the nation to watch you as you've gone about the business of trying to provide comfort to families.
Mayor Giuliani, thank you so much for your time this morning.
GIULIANI: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: Appreciate your being with us.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
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