9/11 Firefighters and Family Members Plot Anti-Giuliani Ad Campaign

Group weighs TV campaign to "take ... down" former N.Y. mayor's 9/11 legend.

ByABC News
November 17, 2007, 2:27 PM

Nov. 17, 2007 — -- A group of 9/11 firefighters and victims' family members with eyes on derailing Republican Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign is close to a decision on forming an entity that would run issue ads in key early nominating states.

"TV made him a hero, and we'll use TV to take him down," New York Fire Chief Jim Riches told ABC News.

The final decision about the formation of an outside entity will happen sometime within the next few weeks after the group finalizes its plans at a meeting scheduled for after Thanksgiving. So far, though, under Riches' leadership, the group has sought legal guidance and help from political consultants.

If the group decides to move forward, it would set up a 527 committee -- or something similar to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which in 2004 helped sink Democratic Sen. John Kerry's White House bid.

This Monday, the firefighters and family members are holding a meeting at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire hoping to spread the word about what they say is Giuliani's "egregious" use of 9/11 for political gain.

The group also is considering additional trips to early presidential primary states Iowa, Florida and South Carolina.

Riches, who lost his firefighter son Jimmy in the World Trade Center's north tower, said, "We don't want him running on 9/11 or the bodies of all these dead people or my dead son saying that he did a great job that day."

He and other members of the anti-Giuliani group claim 9/11 first responders were given bad radios and that that prevented them from hearing evacuation orders when the World Trade Center buildings were about to collapse. They also contend Giuliani rushed cleanup work and misled people about air quality at Ground Zero, where recovery workers, including Riches, say they contracted illnesses.

Asked to comment for this story, the Giuliani campaign referred ABC News to a statement from Lee Ielpi, another firefighter whose son died on Sept. 11.

"I understand the emotion surrounding Sept. 11, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it was the terrorists who attacked New York City," the statement said. "On that day and the days following, New Yorkers and the rest of the country were fortunate to have the steady and strong leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani."