Giuliani: New York's 'Finest Hour'

We were on a ground floor that had windows and you could look outside. All of a sudden, it became black, and then white. And things were pelting down.… I heard things hitting the building … We went down to the basement to exit. We tried one exit. It was locked. We tried another exit. That was locked. And then [a security guard] decided to come back upstairs. He said, "There's an exit upstairs. We can go out through the upstairs area." When we came upstairs, back into the area we had been in originally, things had gotten worse. There was smoke outside, it was much heavier. There was much more debris falling. And the exit on the main floor was closed. A security guard then came up to us and said, "I think we can go out through the adjoining building. I think that's open." So we all went back downstairs, tried another exit. That didn't work. And then finally, he went to an exit and he opened it. And we walked through into the lobby of 100 Park Place, which is an adjoining building that faces east. When that door opened, I think all of us breathed a sigh of relief, although when we got into the lobby, I wasn't sure we were better off, because when we looked outside, it looked like Armageddon. It was black and white, and there was no visibility at all.

Walters: Did you think you were going to die, Mr. Mayor?

Giuliani: Now I do, when I think back on it. That night and the next day, now when I think back on it, I realize that we were in a lot of danger. But at the time, there really wasn't time to think about it. And I don't think until we walked out into the Park Place building, I don't think I realized how bad it was … We were right behind 7 World Trade Center. And 7 World Trade Center absorbed the biggest hit from the fallen building, and probably saved our life.

Political Future

Walters: You know of course that there are some people who are saying that you can't leave as mayor, that they need you to stay on, and maybe they could change a law so you could stay. Is there any possibility that you would stay on in any capacity under a new mayor?

Giuliani: I think those are more like political questions. I almost can't deal with those now. It seems to me my job is to get us through the next couple of months. Try to put a really very effective transition in place once a new mayor is selected … We're not going to have any mayor until November. When we do, I'm more than happy to work with them and make sure that there's an absolutely appropriate transition and try to get the city through this worst time …

Walters: In the future, I don't want to ask you a political question, but would there be any way that you would continue to serve under somebody else?

Giuliani: I don't know. That's really up to what happens in the political transition. I would do anything. This week that we just ended is the worst week in the history of the city of New York. It could be one of the worst weeks in the history of America. We've been never attacked at this dimension before, certainly not within the continental United States. But it also turns out to be the best week in the history of the city. I mean the bravery, the dedication, the enormous love, and the support from the rest of America gives the city remarkable, remarkable strength. So I think we can already see the way in which we're going to recover and be stronger. But we're going to have to go through tremendous pain first.

City Under Siege

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