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Giuliani to Drop Out of Senate Race

Aired May 19, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as we mentioned just moments ago, big political doing today in the New York Senate race, Rudy Giuliani reportedly is out. He had a big decision to make.

Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst is here with us now.

He's had a lot on his plate, Bill, a surprise to you that he took this step?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Not really a surprise, a lot of people have been pressuring him not to run or at least to make up his mind. And a lot of people have been warning him that this will be very tough fight. It always has been a tough fight, but now, look, the mayor of New York is facing three, or would've faced three difficult battles: a battle against cancer; a battle with his wife, who clearly was aggrieved by his behavior; and a battle with the first lady for the Senate seat from New York. To do all of those three things at the same time in the next six months would have been very tough.

ALLEN: It would've been, I guess, an incredible race for him, as you say, to be able to stick that out and go through all of that. What does this do to this race that has gotten so much attention without a figure like Rudy Giuliani? What in the world are the Republicans doing right now?

SCHNEIDER: Well, look: Boom! It blows the whole thing wide open. Republicans have been getting desperate. I mean, look, they heard Hillary give her acceptance speech this week to the Democratic party in New York and basically they said: who will rid us of this meddlesome woman? They want to stop this woman. They don't want to hear Clintons in the news. And yet, she doesn't have an opponent. They don't know who to write their checks to, they're desperate to find someone. The problem is they need a candidate who has stature and who's not terribly controversial.

There is an alternative candidate, a congressman from Long Island, Rick Lazio, who is not terribly controversial. A moderate Republican, but they have to ask: Does he have the stature comparable to Giuliani's? so that when he stands next to the first lady, he will look like a comparable candidate. The only one who fills both of those requirements right now is Governor Pataki in New York, Republican governor of New York. But he says he's not running and intends to support Lazio. I tell you what's going to happen, there's going to be enormous pressure from national Republicans who want to stop the Clintons, and from state Republicans who want to save their majority in the state Senate on Governor Pataki now, to run. He said he won't do it, he supports Lazio. But you better bet there's going to be some rethinking on Pataki's part and on a lot of Republicans' part.

ALLEN: Well, as far as the big picture with the Republican party, who makes the final decision on who is the candidate?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the candidates decide whether they want to run. I mean, you can't force them to run. The parties is going to make a nomination in 10 days. They're going to be meeting in Buffalo on May 30 to decide who it is they want to nominate. They better have some candidates ready to run by that time. There is only one that we were certain of at this point and that's Congressman Lazio.

WATERS: How comfortable was it, the GOP, with Giuliani? He endorsed Cuomo over Pataki, and Pataki chose or made the decision that Giuliani would run instead of Lazio, now maybe it's Lazio.

SCHNEIDER: The answer to your question Lou is: less and less. They started out pretty comfortable because look, he got handsomely re-elected, a Republican mayor of New York City, that's a miracle. Elected, re-elected, he looked like a winner, he turned New York City around. But the more the campaign went on, especially when he didn't really declare, and the more his problems became evident: his rather unfeeling criticisms of some victims of police shootings who were unarmed; the way he handled his opponents; his refusal to campaign upstate; the very erratic nature of campaign. And then eventually, of course, his illness, which people sympathize with, and his handling of his marriage. Little by little Republicans were saying: can he win this race? And the race has been neck and neck for the last few months. So they were beginning to wonder if he was the best guy.

WATERS: Does this mean now that his political career is over in that state?

SCHNEIDER: Oh no, oh no, no, no, I mean, look, I can see a Giuliani plan here or at least an idea that maybe they will get George Pataki to run. And George Pataki will beat Hillary Rodham Clinton, and then that will leave the governorship open in two years. And Pataki will run for the office he always has wanted, which is governor of New York.

WATERS: Well, there we go.

SCHNEIDER: There are lots of agendas here.


ALLEN: Yes, the one thing we probably can't do is count Rudy Giuliani out...

SCHNEIDER: Never, never, never.

ALLEN: ... of the political game at this point. What about Rick Lazio and how much money he has?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he has a few million dollars and listen: any Republicans who runs against Hillary Rodham Clinton, is going to be able to raise money. There are lots of hardcore conservatives who don't agree with Rudy Giuliani on anything, especially issues like gay rights and abortion, who gladly wrote him checks to stop Hillary Rodham Clinton. A lot of that money is now going to go to Rick Lazio, or whoever it is.

WATERS: We're hearing now, Bill, that in 45 minutes that there will be a news conference at City Hall in New York.


WATERS: Rudy Giuliani, I guess, has an announcement to make. So apparently...

SCHNEIDER: We'll be listening.

WATERS: ... this -- these indications we're getting are in fact true. Is there any one else that the -- we're hearing Lazio, Lazio, Lazio all through this whole Rudy Giuliani business. Is there anyone else in New York that might be considered?

ALLEN: How can New York not have somebody of stature for the rest of the country to watch?


Well, Giuliani was the guy. So he's frozen everyone out until today. The governor, there might be, as I say, there'll be pressure on him to reconsider. I mean, my goodness, Al D'Amato could reconsider, I think he'd be a very difficult candidate to elect. Some other congressmen: Jack Quinn from Buffalo; Pete King from Long Island; everybody. I can tell you something, with this announcement, everybody, every Republican in New York is going to be forced to reconsider.

ALLEN: The phones are buzzing today in New York.

WATERS: And how much time do the Republicans have now? When is this decision going to be made?

SCHNEIDER: Ten days,


SCHNEIDER: May 30 they endorse a candidate and then the candidate has 10 days to accept.

WATERS: So they'll be chewing their fingernails short here, the next 10 days?

SCHNEIDER: Their fingernails are almost gone just waiting for Rudy.

ALLEN: Bill Schneider Thanks,

We will probably talk to you so more after we hear what the mayor has to say today.



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