May 11, 2000
Giuliani Fights Rumors About Future
By Beth J. Harpaz
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mayor Rudolph Giuliani fought off speculation Thursday that he is about to get out of the Senate race because of his prostate cancer, his crumbling marriage and reports of his alleged affairs.
"I made no decision yet to drop out of the Senate race," he insisted at a news conference. "I didn't discuss that with anyone. I didn't say that to anyone."
Leading New York Republicans said publicly they still support his candidacy against Hillary Rodham Clinton, but behind-the-scenes plans were already being made to back another candidate should the mayor drop out.
On Wednesday, Giuliani announced he and his wife of 16 years, Donna Hanover, are discussing a legal separation. Hanover responded by dropping her own bombshell, alleging that their marital woes began a few years ago over his relationship with a former press aide.
Hanover also said that just as she and the mayor began to reconcile, he took up with yet another woman. Giuliani, 55, has acknowledged a relationship with a health care executive, Judith Nathan.
On Thursday, the mayor lashed out at reporters who shouted questions about the alleged affairs.
"Don't you guys have the slightest bit of decency?" he said. "Do you realize you embarrass yourself doing this in the eyes of just about everybody?"
He also reiterated that his Senate run is contingent on his treatment for prostate cancer, which was diagnosed two weeks ago. "I haven't made up my mind if I have the energy and the capacity to run," he said.
He angrily complained about news reports that he is on the verge of abandoning the campaign, calling them "false rumors."
Earlier Thursday, a senior Republican official and strong Giuliani supporter, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the mayor was leaning toward quitting.
"His heart, his soul, his body are not in this thing," said the official, who added that Giuliani hadn't made a final decision.
Republicans must choose a Senate candidate by May 30, when they hold their state convention. State GOP chairman Bill Powers said on Thursday: "Contrary to everybody else's popular belief, I believe he is running."
Rep. Rick Lazio, a Long Island congressman, renewed his interest in running, first expressed months ago. Rep. Peter King of Long Island and Wall Street multimillionaire Ted Forstmann, a prominent supporter of Roman Catholic causes, both let it be known they would be available.
Clinton, who knows a thing or two about marital problems as front-page news, refused to comment on the mayor's travails.
"I just don't think anyone should comment on what they're going through," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "I'm going to, out of respect for him and his family, have nothing to say about it."
President Clinton said in Washington: "Everybody in New York and everybody in America ought to be rooting for the human side of this to work out. We should wish him well in the struggle of his illness, wish that family well and should want the best for their children."
Even Bishop Edward Egan, who was named head of the New York Archdiocese Thursday, offered an opinion, saying he hopes Catholics and others "would have the greatest sympathy for this good human being who is struggling through two very serious situations."
GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush, who like other Republicans questioned President Clinton's integrity after the impeachment scandal, was asked if voters should be concerned about the mayor's character.
"No, I think Rudy's a good fellow and a good man," he said on Lifetime, the cable channel for women. "I hope he stays in the race. I'm more concerned about the fact that he's sick."
New Yorkers, meanwhile, were enthralled by the daily drama coming out of City Hall.
"It's become a public soap opera," said Frank Fornario, a teacher who said he supports Giuliani.
"Between the cancer and the situation with his marriage, I feel he's not interested in the politics," said Kathy Andrade, a retiree who plans to vote for the first lady. "Stress is no good for him. He's better off staying home."
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