New York, 9/11 and the Battle for the White House


Published: October 25, 2007

NEW YORK—As the race for presidential nominations heats up, it seems that both parties favor candidates from New York. Both Democratic senator Hillary Clinton and Republican former mayor Rudy Giuliani share a history dealing with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

While the approach to discussing Sept. 11 has changed, the attacks are still a relevant issue. “[Sept. 11] is mentioned as a turning point and not something we need to react to,”  Patrick Wyllie, FCLC ’09, said. Many New York firefighters are “attacking Giuliani” for his perceived lack of support after the attacks.

Dr. Christopher Toulouse, professor of political science at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), said, “[Sept. 11] rescue workers could be Giuliani’s Swift Boat [Veterans for Truth, an organization that sponsored ads attacking John Kerry in 2004], but he won’t make the same mistake Kerry did.” Toulouse said he would expect Giuliani to respond with rhetoric that praises rescue workers, rather than ignore the attacks.

While Giuliani is promoting his positions on terrorism and discussing Sept. 11, Clinton has made health care the primary issue of her platform. She was one of the primary supporters of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which Clinton claims has helped insure six million children.

New York has been a testing ground for national policy in the past. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs started in New York City under the direction of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and the urban planner Robert Moses.

But more recently, New York has been plagued with social and economic disasters such as the events of 1977, as well as the economic crisis of the early 1970s (when the New York Post headlines read: “Ford to City: Drop Dead”). The current national perception of New York will play a major part in the 2008 elections if Clinton and Giuliani both win their respective party nominations.

“It would be foolish and imprudent to think that any candidate coming out of New York City wouldn’t be contextually connected to their New York-ness,” Paulie Dibner, FCLC ’09 said. “New York stands for something now that it never did before. That ideal, true or not, is important to Middle America.”

“People across the nation know [Giuliani] as the man who cleaned up New York and made it safe for them to visit the city again,” Toulouse said. “[Giuliani is] cashing in on his fame, and goodness gracious, why not?”

After finishing his second term as mayor of New York City, Giuliani started a consulting firm that specializes in issues of crisis management and public safety, relying on his perceived success in supporting the city through the Sept. 11 attacks and the aftermath.

Though both candidates are considered national front-runners, many believe that they will face some challenges in the coming months.

Vincent Azzinaro, FCLC ’08, plans to support Giuliani. “Giuliani’s common sense politics grounded in his personal legal experience as well as his leadership policies greatly impress me.”

Azzinaro said he believes the former mayor will overcome challenges presented to him. “What Giuliani will lose in fundamentalist Christian Republicans because of his pro-choice views he will gain with independents, moderates, and even a number of Democrats.”

Wyllie “prefers Clinton, of the two,” but is undecided among Democratic candidates. He said Clinton may have a tough time getting elected because, “people made up their minds about her ten years ago.”

“I think she’s the lesser of two evils for New York candidates,” said Dibner, who currently does not fully support Clinton. “I have faith that she’ll work her ass off to try to change [the state of American politics]…She’s done good [things] for New York.”

Giuliani may “lock up the South, but I don’t think he will win in New York,” Toulouse said. “I think [Clinton will] prevail in the end…but I change my mind each week.”