Mystique of 'America's Mayor' Tarnished

Rudy Giuliani is known to many for 9/11, but some criticize his actions.

ByABC News
May 24, 2007, 4:00 PM

May 24, 2007— -- The mystique of "America's mayor" shows signs of fraying.

The nation's largest firefighters' union is planning to send out 280,000 videotapes attacking former New York Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his pre-9/11 record -- including his decision to place New York City's emergency operations center in the World Trade Center before Sept. 11, 2001.

In recent months, families of 9/11 victims have planted themselves outside Giuliani fundraisers, and several critical books and documentaries have been released.

Reports have emerged sharply questioning Giuliani's response to the 9/11 attacks, with critics portraying a bullying mayor who, in his zeal for a quick cleanup, brushed aside health concerns about the air at ground zero.

And Giuliani's former emergency management director, Jerome Hauer, is now a prominent Giuliani critic, questioning the former mayor's handling of the turf wars that divided the police and fire departments before 9/11.

"In terms of preparedness, response and leadership, Rudy fell down," said Jeff Zack, a spokesman for the International Association of Fire Fighters, which is preparing the video for distribution to its members.

"Rudy has created an image of himself that he likes to expand upon: that he's the hero of 9/11," Zack said. "And it's not true, especially from the point of view of the firefighters who lived through that day and the families of those who died on that day."

The Giuliani campaign casts the accusations as politically motivated attacks.

While they concede that mistakes were made in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, they express confidence that voters will stick with the image of a strong Giuliani they have in their minds.

"There are groups that for political reasons are going to criticize, but Mayor Giuliani is focused on how the American people can tackle the terrorists' war on us,'' said Maria Comella, a campaign spokeswoman. "There are millions of people around the world who saw the mayor's strong leadership for themselves in the days surrounding Sept. 11."