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New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani Holds News Conference on Health Considerations, Senate Candidacy

Aired May 15, 2000 - 12:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FRANKS SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: And we mentioned to you a few minutes ago that New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani would be holding a news conference. He is doing that. Mostly business as usual, but we want to give you a sampling of it, so we listen:

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: Once of the reasons why is that, last week, week I didn't have the time that I thought I would have to devote not only to consulting with doctors, but also to focus on it and think about, which you have to do -- both -- both of those things.

Last week, because of things involving my personal life, my family and everything else, I didn't have the time, literally, to do that, or the focussed attention that you need. So I'm going to need to do that this week. I'm going to need to do it tomorrow, the next day, I don't know. I can't -- you can't put a time frame on this. You have to make the decision when you're ready to make it.

But I have not completed the external or internal process that I put in place. And I really don't think that it's helpful to me or anyone else to give updates on it because, about a decision like this -- and if you've talked to anyone that's gone through it -- and I've had the good fortune of talking to some people who have gone through it who have helped me, you change your mind about it, you know, probably 10 times before you make the decision.

I have not made the decision yet. I can tell you that the report in "Newsweek" is just absolutely false. I haven't read it. It was quoted to me several times yesterday. I believe the report says something like two weeks ago I made the decision to have surgery, followed by radiation, and it would take three months to convalesce, and I had made the decision not to run.

That is false.

I made no such decision two weeks ago, one week ago or today. I made no decision about treatment, much less the decision to run. And what I said to myself then and to all the people that are closest to me was that I would first at least have a better sense of the treatment situation and then make a decision as to whether I could run, and I've stuck to that. And I've gone back and forth and weighed possibilities, but I have not made a decision. And I don't know who told that to the people from Newsweek, but that's absolutely false.

Also, if they would analyze the information, it can't even possibly be true because that is not a sensible treatment plan for somebody with the kind of cancer that I have. You don't decide on surgery and radiation. You decide on one or other. So somebody was spinning them in a direction, exactly why, I don't know. You can speculate.

QUESTION: Are you angry about the people who have apparently leaked things?

GIULIANI: Yes, I guess, sure. I mean, you would think about something like this, people would, you know, have a little patience and a little discipline and not -- the only thing I can conclude about that is that it is not somebody that I confided in, because if they had even known more about the real possibilities concerning this illness, which are very serious, I'm not saying they aren't serious, they would have know that didn't make much sense.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are you approaching this like a case, as a lawyer or as prosecutor, analyzing it in...

GIULIANI: Well, you know, you're a person, and you approach it the way -- I guess the answer to that is yes, although it's, you know, obviously it has different kinds of consequences and emotionally it's much more difficult.

But you learn how to make decision in certain ways, and you don't, you know, you don't unlearn that and, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are there any pressures in the state Republican Party to make a decision?

GIULIANI: No. Actually, I don't feel under pressure from the state Republican Party. I feel under pressure. I feel it's right that I make a decision. I feel the internal pressure of making the decision. I spoke to Bill Powers over the weekend, and he did not in any way pressure me to make a decision.

We both understand that I should make the decision as soon as I can.

(CROSSTALK)

And I don't have a time, I don't have a date. And, you know...

QUESTION: I take from your earlier comments that it doesn't sound like you're going to be in California...

GIULIANI: Oh, yes, I should -- I'm not going to go to California on Tuesday and Wednesday because I need that time to not only consult with the doctors, but to think about what, you know, what the right approach to treatment will be so then I can make the rest of the decisions that are necessary.

However, there is a fund-raiser in New York City tonight. I'm going to go to that. And I'm going to keep my schedule today. And then tomorrow I'm -- I will probably -- tomorrow and the next day, I will probably have a much reduced schedule, so that I can do some private things.

SESNO: Mayor Rudy Giuliani there giving a sense of where things stand right now with regard to the big decisions that confront him. First and foremost he denies reports in "Newsweek" that he has opted for a specific course of treatment. "Newsweek" had reported that it would include surgery and then radiation, with something like three months of convalescence. As a result, the mayor likely to be forced from the race. Couldn't be farther from the truth, says the mayor.

He says he's made no decision on his treatment, never mind where his politics will go. He says he will be canceling trips to California later this week, Tuesday, Wednesday, a fund-raiser and some other work out there. He will be going to fund-raiser in New York instead, But he says he will be starting to do some of the close thinking that he needs to do on these subjects over the next couple of days.

Last week focused on challenges in his family life and the immediacy of the news about the prostate cancer and the actual decision making as to his own political fortunes not yet fully formed.

Jeff Greenfield in New York, the mayor was also asked pointedly if he's been getting pressure from the Republican state party as to his decision. You and I were talking just a few moments ago about the deliberations within the Republican party. He said firmly, no he's not.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, one of the hardest things to do when you look at something like this is to remember that for -- even though we're talking about a politician, we're also talking about a human being, which sometimes, I think people in our profession don't always remember.

Now here's a guy facing simultaneously two of the most stressful situations that any human being can face in his or her life: A life- threatening illness, and a major disruption of his family life. Whether that's his personal responsibility doesn't lessen the stress.

And so, you know, I for one, and you can call me naive, really take him at his word about this. I think this is ammo -- this is not only a huge political story. It is primarily the story of a human being facing this enormous burden and asking for people to back off for a couple of days and let him figure out what he's going to try to do to make sure he can save his life. I mean, under those circumstances if you were a political figure in New York, would you be pressuring him or would you be sort of saying to him; We're with you and good luck and, you know, we hope it works out for you. I think that human element is a lever.

SESNO: And yet, as he pointed out, you know, and I think all of us who are familiar with prostate cancer and cancer generally, when you start going through this process there are a number of options. The patient has some very difficult choices to make, because, especially with prostate cancer, a number of types of treatment that are available with varying theories. He said it's the kind of thing you go back and forth on, you may change your mind several times.

GREENFIELD: One of the things you saw in this brief part of the press conference, and it has puzzled people in New York for a long time, is that when you watch Rudy Giuliani in a situation, I don't mean like this because this is unique; but answering questions, there is a sense of reasonableness, there is a sense of an obviously intelligent guy and also a sense of a certain degree of humanity. And why he has been unable to convey that to the public in how he conducts his office, is one of the abiding mysteries of New York politics. There is this side of him that somehow when he deals with his political opponents, sometimes with his political allies, he comes across as so ruthless and so dogmatic that this side of Rudy Giuliani which has been on display in New York over the years, absent this condition, kind of gets overshadowed.

SESNO: Jeff Greenfield, Thanks very much, appreciate it.

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