Rudy's Baggage

I really like Rudy Giuliani.

While I don't particularly agree with his position on a number of social issues like abortion and gun control, I know him to be a tough, effective leader. When people call him "America's mayor," that's as much a reflection on the amazing job he did as mayor of New York City as it is his strong, steady, calming leadership in the days, weeks and month after 9/11.

It's no surprise to me that he is currently enjoying a great deal of support as a presidential nominee on the Republican Party ticket for 2008.

So what's going to happen to this surging support as Americans consider the messy details of his very public divorce with Donna Hanover in 2000 and remarriage to Judi Nathan?

When Giuliani's son Andrew told a TV reporter the other day that his dad wasn't exactly "father-of-the-year" material, pundits immediately wondered if the family drama would doom his chances to be a viable candidate in '08.

Well, there's one popular politician who could attest to the way the American public tends to be quite forgiving when it comes to marital indiscretions. Bill Clinton is one of the most sought-after speakers in the country today.

The former president is treated like a superstar wherever he goes. Yet despite being impeached and literally losing his law license for his illegal and unethical behavior while in the Oval Office, he was also clearly guilty of the moral transgression of adultery.

So how does the character issue apply to men who want to be president?

When I consider the Giuliani candidacy, I think about one of the greatest American presidents ever, Ronald Reagan. President Reagan apparently had some personal family challenges as well. His children described the twice-married Reagan as distant and distracted, not exactly dad-of-the-year material, either. And yet history will judge Mr. Reagan as one of most inspirational, effective, popular presidents of our lifetime.

So if two wildly opposite leaders like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are any indication of what the voting public thinks about marital and family challenges and how that impacts a presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani doesn't have anything to worry about. His public reaction, thus far, has been pitch perfect: Please give my family some privacy as we continue to struggle through the challenges of a "blended family."

Mike Gallagher is a national syndicated talk radio host and a contributing editor for His Web site is

That's a message that millions of Americans can relate to.

The next president of the United States will be someone who will convince the American public that he or she is tough as nails. The war on terror reminds us that this is no time for any wimps at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A lot can be said about Rudy Giuliani. Being a wimp isn't one of them.

Watch the Rudy Giuliani freight train. I think it's just starting to pick up steam.

Mike Gallagher is a national syndicated talk radio host and a contributing editor for His Web site is