Associated Press
May 19, 2000

Giuliani Drops Out of Senate Race

By Timothy Williams

NEW YORK (AP) -- Battling prostate cancer and with his personal life in turmoil, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani dropped out of the Senate race on Friday, stunning the political world and abruptly halting an engrossing campaign against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Republican mayor said he had agonized over the decision for days.

''I've decided that what I should do is to put my health first, and that this is not the right time for me to run for office,'' he said haltingly. ''I stayed up last night -- I don't usually sleep much and I slept less last night -- going back and forth -- what's the right decision -- and I believe this is the right decision.''

He added, ''You realize you are not a Superman and you are just a human being.''

Giuliani, 55, appeared uncharacteristically nervous and introspective as he made the announcement at a packed City Hall news conference. He spoke in a softer, less certain voice that he has adopted since announcing that he had prostate cancer three weeks ago, throwing his race against Clinton into question.

Giuliani said he expected to have the strength to carry out his duties as mayor, but it was uncertain whether his ability to govern would be hurt by any political fallout from his decision to leave the Senate race or the turmoil in his personal life.

''I thank God that it gives me really another 18 months to be the mayor of New York City,'' Giuliani said. In his speech and replies to reporters' questions, he never mentioned his plans to separate from his wife or his acknowledged relationship with another woman.

Clinton said she spoke with the mayor shortly after his announcement.

''I called him at the conclusion of his announcement to wish him well, to tell him that I knew this was a difficult decision and I certainly hope and pray ... that he will have a full and speedy recovery,'' she said.

Giuliani's departure from the race propels Rep. Rick Lazio, a relatively unknown Long Island congressman, to the top of a list of Republicans hoping to replace him in the battle for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Among the others who might now mount a challenge for the Republican nomination are Rep. Peter King, also of Long Island. The state GOP nominating convention is May 30.

Giuliani's decision caps an extraordinary 22 days for the mayor that started April 27 when he disclosed that he had treatable prostate cancer and was unsure whether he could continue running for Senate.

A few days later, when newspapers began reporting sightings of him at late night dinners in the company of a woman who was not his wife, the mayor acknowledged that the woman, Judith Nathan, 45, was his ''very good friend.''

Next, on May 10, Giuliani shocked the political establishment -- and his wife, television personality and actress Donna Hanover -- by announcing that he was seeking a legal separation from her after 16 years of marriage.

A few hours later, Hanover, 50, held a news conference of her own in which she said that Giuliani had previously had a relationship with one of his top City Hall aides, Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas, 35. Giuliani and Lategano-Nicholas, who is now head of the city's tourism bureau, have denied a sexual relationship.

On Friday, as the mayor made his announcement, Hanover was at Gracie Mansion with the couple's two children, Andrew, 14, and Caroline, 10.

''The mayor called Donna before the announcement and they talked briefly and she's concerned for his health and will try to help with that,'' said Hanover's spokeswoman, Joannie Danielides.

Giuliani had raised $20 million with the help of a well-oiled fund-raising apparatus that sent letters around the country to right-wing voters who dislike Clinton. It was not clear what would happen to the $9 million he has left.

Since his crisis became public, the normally aggressive Giuliani has adopted a noticeably softer tone. Speaking about his struggle with cancer, the mayor waxed almost poetic.

''Something very beautiful happens,'' Giuliani said. ''It makes you figure out what you're all about and what's important to you. I used to think the core of me was in politics.

''It isn't.''

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