Giuliani a Major Player at GOP Convention

A decade ago, Rudolph Giuliani's (search) relations with the Republican Party were in tatters.

As mayor, he crossed party lines in 1994 to endorse Democrat Mario Cuomo (search) over George Pataki (search), the little-known Republican who managed to upset the three-term governor. For years afterward, the relationship between Giuliani and GOP leaders was so strained it rarely strayed far from mutual open hostility.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001.

Based on his leadership of the city through the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, Giuliani became a hero to many and emerged as a Republican Party standard-bearer.

The former mayor — a Republican supportive of abortion rights and gun regulations — now has a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention (search), where President Bush will accept the party's presidential nomination. Giuliani is also likely to be a focus of attention during the gathering at Madison Square Garden, just north of the attack site.

In fact, Giuliani will have a more prominent role at the convention than Michael Bloomberg (search), the city's current Republican mayor, and could be the most visible Republican there — other than Bush.

Whatever disagreements he has with Bush and other more conservative Republicans, Giuliani says the ties that bind him to the party are more important — shared views on defense and the economy, especially.

"A political party should be organized around national defense and economic policy, and around other things, there should be a wide range of opinion," he told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

Speculation that Giuliani, 59, will join a second Bush administration comes up often, whether as vice president, attorney general, homeland security secretary or in an intelligence post.

Other options include the 2006 New York governor's race or challenging Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who faces re-election that year. If Bush is re-elected, there'll be a run for president in 2008 to consider.

"He finds himself in a party almost utterly without charismatic leaders, and so you'll probably find that Rudy gets more attention than almost anyone else," Cuomo said in a recent interview. "They'll be talking about Cabinet positions, there will be lots of predictions about what he'll do. The whole convention will be very, very good for Rudy."

Giuliani said he has not ruled out a Cabinet post or a future run for office "if the right opportunity came along and it was the right time of my life, and I felt like I could really make a difference," he told the AP.

"But it's not something I'm thinking about right now," he added.

For now, Giuliani is busy helping his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners (search), make millions by advising clients as varied as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (searchand the makers of the painkiller OxyContin (search). He also wrote a best-selling book, titled "Leadership," and has stumped for Republican candidates nationwide.

Giuliani also has emerged as a top GOP attack dog, a role New Yorkers grew accustomed during his two tumultuous terms at City Hall, when he regularly tangled with fellow politicians, judges and constituents. He also was in Boston during last month's Democratic convention to defend Bush from attacks by the opposition.

Giuliani, a one-time Democrat, is also a former U.S. attorney who won accolades for his zealous pursuit of mob bosses and corrupt politicians. He lost his first run for mayor against David Dinkins (search) during a racially polarizing campaign in 1989, but upset Dinkins in their 1993 rematch.

He was lauded for his administration's success fighting crime, a feat that made it clear how much Giuliani hates to share credit. He abruptly fired Police Commissioner William Bratton after Bratton was featured in Time magazine and credited as the man largely responsible for the plummeting crime rate. Bratton is now the Los Angeles police chief.

Giuliani's popularity began to dip during his second term as New Yorkers grew weary of his combativeness, especially after an energetic defense of police officers during a series of fatal shootings of unarmed, black men.

There also were personal troubles. Giuliani dropped out of the 2000 Senate race against Clinton after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. His second wife publicly accused him of adultery Giuliani's stature grew so dramatically after the World Trade Center attacks, when he helped before the they became embroiled in a nasty divorce as he openly continued the extramarital affair. The cancer was treated and he remarried in May 2003.guide a depressed and stunned city, that he was named Time magazine's "Person of the Year."