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Carlson Tucker Carlson is a CNN political analyst and contributes to The Weekly Standard and Talk magazines. He is providing exclusive analysis to CNN during the election season.

Tucker Carlson: Expect more revelations from Rudy

May 12, 2000
Web posted at: 12:29 p.m. EDT (1629 GMT)

(CNN) -- It is among the first rules of both politics and good manners: Before holding a press conference to announce the end of your marriage, alert your wife.

On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani ignored this rule. Within hours, his bewildered wife, Donna Hanover, held a press conference of her own. Tears welling in her eyes, Hanover implied that her husband had been having an affair with a member of his staff. What had started as an uncomfortable day for the mayor of New York ended as a disaster.

Giuliani's failure to inform his wife before going public with news of their separation was more than simply insensitive. It was reckless. (Hanover learned of her husband's intentions when she saw him on television; her response, one suspects, could have been far more damaging even than it was.) Above all, it was not the behavior of a man who cares much about his political future, much less of someone who plans to win a tight race for the U.S. Senate. Giuliani admitted as much yesterday morning. "I don't really care about politics right now," he informed stunned reporters assembled in Manhattan's Bryant Park.

Then he seemed to change his mind. Shortly after his press conference, Giuliani instructed his staff to bat down rumors of his impending withdrawal from the Senate race. "He wants to run, he intends to run. All systems are go," said one press aide. Fellow Republicans joined the spin effort. "I do not think it will affect the political picture at all," assured Roy Goodman, a GOP state senator from Manhattan. "It's a strictly personal matter."

Except it will. And it's not.

In fact, Giuliani's domestic troubles have already affected the race. Privately, aides admit that political donations have dropped off. At this point, Giuliani's campaign will not meet its fundraising goals for the month of May.

Nor is the state of Giuliani's marriage irrelevant to the race. (Strictly speaking, it ceased being a "personal matter" the moment the mayor held his first press conference on the subject.) New York City may resemble Paris in its attitudes toward sexual peccadilloes -- Giuliani supporters are fervently claiming it does -- but the rest of the state does not. There are still people in New York who strongly disapprove of adultery. Many of them are Republicans. To win, Giuliani will need their votes.

Will Giuliani stay in the race? The conventional understanding is that he has until the end of the month to decide. A spokesman scoffs at this deadline as "quite artificial" and "press imposed." Instead, the spokesman says, Giuliani could spend a good part of the summer focused on beating his prostate cancer ("Remember, this is man who is trying to decide how to save his life"), and wait till September before announcing his final decision.

This is an unlikely scenario. Already, at least three prominent Republicans -- Gov. George Pataki, Rep. Rick Lazio and financier Teddy Forstmann -- have indicated they might be interested in taking Giuliani's place. Forstmann, who is rich enough to finance his own campaign, recently hired veteran GOP spokesman Dan Schnur. Schnur's previous employer was John McCain.

Giuliani faces growing competition and dwindling time. He must make his decision soon. Expect more exciting press conferences.



If you need to know who's up in 1999 or 2000 and what seats are open launch this quick guide.

Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? Find out with these state political and election facts.

Check out the latest numbers or dig back into the poll archives.



Friday, May 12, 2000


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