Giuliani named Time's Person of Year
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Outgoing New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who rallied his city after the September 11 terrorist attacks and helped nurture its recovery, said Sunday he is honored to be selected Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2001.
But he said the distinction is simply an acknowledgment of the incomparable spirit of New York in the aftermath of the attacks.
"I want to say that I was very humbled and very moved by the selection by Time magazine," Giuliani said. "I want to express my appreciation, not only personal, for the people of the city of New York because I believe I wasn't selected.
"I believe the people of the city of New York were selected as the people of the year, because of the very brave and heroic way in which they responded from the first moment to the worst attack on the United States ever in our history."
Giuliani, 57, who leaves office next month after two consecutive terms in office, has been praised worldwide for his performance in the aftermath of the attacks, even receiving an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in October for his efforts.
His popularity soared after the attacks, with many in the city suggesting he stay on for a third consecutive term, something barred by law. A Time/CNN poll found 68 percent of respondents want to see him go on to the U.S. Senate or the governorship.
There had been wide speculation that Osama bin Laden would be named Person of the Year, a designation not meant as an award but to mark the person or persons who most affected the news of the year.
"Though we spent hours debating the pros and cons of naming Osama bin Laden, it ultimately became easy to dismiss him," said managing editor Jim Kelly. "He is not a larger-than-life figure with broad historical sweep ... he is smaller than life, a garden-variety terrorist whose evil plan succeeded beyond his highest hopes."
Time chose Giuliani "because of his courage on September 11 and afterwards, because a very human man showed superhuman strengths at a time when the entire country was being tested," Kelly said.
"He showed the way out of our despair, and gave us the emotional armor to get up every day and get on with our lives," Kelly said. "He led by emotion, not just by words and actions."
Giuliani said he simply tried to be optimistic.
"When I said the city would be stronger, I didn't know that. I just hoped it," Giuliani said. "There are parts of you that say, 'Maybe we're not going to get through this.' You don't listen to them."
Born May 29, 1944 in Brooklyn, the grandson of Italian immigrants, Giuliani "learned a strong work ethic and a deep respect for America's ideal of equal opportunity," according to his official biography.
He attended high school in Brooklyn and graduated from Manhattan College in 1965. Three years later, he graduated magna cum laude from University Law School in Manhattan.
His first job as clerk for a U.S. district judge began his long career in law and politics. He later joined the office of the U.S. attorney, and in 1975 was recruited to Washington, where he was named associate deputy attorney general and chief of staff to the deputy attorney general.
In 1977, he returned to New York to practice law at Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler.
In 1981, Giuliani was named associate attorney general, the third-highest position in the Justice Department, where he supervised all of the U.S. Attorney Office's federal law enforcement agencies, the Bureau of Corrections, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Marshals.
Giuliani was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York -- where he began his career -- in 1983. He prosecuted drug dealers, organized crime, and government corruption, resulting in more than 4,000 convictions.
He ran for mayor for the first time in 1989, losing by the closest margin in city history.
In 1993 he ran again, focusing his campaign on the issues of quality of life, crime, business, and education, and was elected the 107th mayor of the New York. He was re-elected four years later by a wide margin, carrying four out of New York's five boroughs.
Giuliani is barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term in office. At one point after the terrorist attacks, he asked the mayoral candidates to allow him to remain in office an extra three months so he could ease the transition during the aftermath -- but the suggestion stirred opposition and Giuliani dropped the request.
Businessman Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, will take over as mayor next month.
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