Key Clinton Backer Rips Giuliani's Personal Life

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., the dean of the New York congressional delegation, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, longtime political booster of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and a member of the steering committee for "Veterans and Military Retirees For Hillary" has joined another co-chair of the Clinton campaign, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, in attacking the personal life of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

In a cover story on Giuliani in this week's New York Observer, Rangel went after Giuliani in unusually personal ways, expressing confidence that Giuliani's frontrunning status will fade either because of the former mayor's liberal positions on social issues or the operatic drama of his personal life.

"Referring to Andrew Giuliani's reportedly distant relationship with his father since the ugly bust-up of Mr. Giuliani's marriage with Donna Hanover," the article says, "Mr. Rangel said it was because 'sons respect and admire their fathers, but they love their mothers against cheating goddamn husbands.' ... Rangel said he regretted that all the personal problems surfaced so soon in the electoral process. 'I'm sorry this damned thing turned out so early because, really, just like [embattled former Giuliani aide Bernard] Kerik, it would have bombed his ass out.'"

The Giuliani campaign declined to comment to ABC News about the attack, referring a reporter to comments made in the story by Randy Mastro, a former Giuliani deputy mayor, who said of Rangle's remarks, "Comments like that are not worthy of a response."

Giuliani and Rangel have long had a contentious relationship.

Asked Saturday afternoon outside Oak Park Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa, if she had any comment on Rangel's remarks, Clinton tersely said, "I don't." She added that she had not seen the story in question.

A Clinton campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, later told ABC News of Rangel's remarks, "These kinds of comments have no place in the campaign."

Last month, Vilsack told NY1 of Giuliani that, "I can't even get into the number of marriages, and the fact his children-- the relationship that he has with his children, and what the kind of circumstance New York was in before Sept. 11, and whether or not he could have even been re-elected as mayor prior to Sept. the 11. There are lots of issues involving Mayor Giuliani, and I'm sure if he becomes the nominee we'll be able to see those."

Vilsack later apologized for his comments.

In an interview with ABC News last week, Giuliani said Vilsack's attack did not surprise him.

"I've watched the Clintons over the years," he said. "I mean, the whole way in which they deal with allegations sometimes against them -- fair or unfair -- is they personally attack people of the other side. There's a whole history of that. So I'm ready for that."

At a candidates' forum earlier this year, Clinton said she wants to "run a very positive campaign. And I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction. I think we should stay focused on what we're going to do for America."

Rangel did not seem to say anything in the interview about any other "cheating goddamn husbands" in the political world.

ABC News' Eloise Harper with the Clinton campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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