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He did it his way

Giuliani reflects on trials, success in City Hall

Giuliani signed his last bill Friday -- naming streets after firefighters and police -- for a total of 550 bills signed during his tenure.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- He fought prostate cancer, did not always enjoy a rosy relationship with minorities and suffered through a nasty marital breakup.

He also presided over a city that enjoyed a rising economy, a falling crime rate and was home to perennial World Series contenders.

Rudy Giuliani also came to represent his city as no mayor probably ever had before when two hijacked airlines annihilated the World Trade Center's twin towers.

In a year-ending press conference Friday, Giuliani paused to reflect on the office he is scheduled to leave on Tuesday.

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Giuliani's eight-year term will end when he swears in fellow Republican Michael Bloomberg as the city's 108th mayor. The event is to take place moments after the city ushers in 2002 in Times Square.

Asked about his mayoral epitaph, Giuliani cracked a joke.

"I don't know -- 'Most Yankees championships in a long time' could be one," he said, a reference to the baseball club's string of four titles in six years. "I don't think you get to determine how you're remembered."

Talk of the 57-year-old's role rallying New York and the nation after two hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center permeated the news conference, which also touched on a wide range of other issues. Giuliani's leadership of the city led Time magazine to name him its 2001 "Person of the Year" two weeks ago.

"I have a number of friends who died at the World Trade Center, so I feel personally involved in it," Giuliani said, pledging to remain an advocate for the victims' families. "The mourning and grief and sorry that emanates from that attack is not over by any means, and maybe will never be over."

Successes mixed with criticism

After an unsuccessful run in 1989, Giuliani ousted incumbent Mayor David Dinkins in 1993 on a platform of improving the quality of life, reducing crime and boosting the economy in New York. He soon established a characteristic governing style, marked by a hard-nosed attitude, insistence on accountability and a workaholic nature -- "for my energy, I am very thankful to my mother," Giuliani said.

Giuliani signed 550 bills in his tenure, a period in which he saw the rate of murder and shooting plummet by around two-thirds, welfare rolls shrink in half from a peak of 1.2 million, unemployment fall from 10 to 7 percent and government spending rise.

Yet he was not without his critics, many of whom argued that the mayor benefited from better economic times and lower crime on a national level. Some also railed against Giuliani for his occasionally bitter feuds with the media, an ugly divorce, a lack of progress in city schools and a tenuous relationship with the city's minorities.

Giuliani's aggressive policing policy came under fire when police shot Diallo in the vestibule of a Bronx apartment building.  

Giuliani won was reelected by a landslide in 1997, but never fared well in black and Hispanic communities.

Giuliani's harshest criticism from non-white groups centered on the aggressive policing model that he advocated, underscored by the 1997 torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in a Brooklyn police station and the 1999 shooting of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo by four police officers in the Bronx.

The mayor said Saturday that his policies were never based on ethnicity or race. He only insisted on "one city, one standard -- everybody treated the same way, meaning treated with respect, unless they show they don't deserve it," Giuliani said.

'At peace' with exit from City Hall

"I'm a human being; I have my limitations," Giuliani said. "I tried very hard to do this job 100 percent. I devoted myself to it."

The former federal prosecutor and soon-to-be former mayor refused to say where he will focus his energies next, except to say he plans to write books, hit the lecture circuit and start a consulting business.

Giuliani credits the people of New York with giving him strength following the September 11 attacks.  

The one title he knows he will assume is "citizen," Giuliani said. "That's the one I'm looking forward to."

Giuliani has been rumored to join the Bush administration in a Cabinet-level position, become the president's running mate in 2004 and then enter the presidential race in 2008.

"I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2008," Giuliani said. "I wasn't planning when I was associate attorney general or U.S. attorney (in the 1980s) to run for mayor. It all came gradually much closer to the time that I did it."

Whatever happens next, Giuliani said he is "at peace" about his upcoming departure from City Hall.

"Maybe it's because of what happened on September 11," he said. "I realize that things end -- whether it's being mayor or your life -- it ends. And part of being able to handle life is being able to handle the changes that take place."

-- CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report


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