Rudy Defends Judi After Family Estrangement Goes Public

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Monday spoke in glowing terms about his third wife Judith Nathan Giuliani after his son Andrew said the former New York mayor's latest marriage had distanced him from his dad.

"My wife Judith is a very loving and caring ... mother and stepmother. She has done everything she can. The responsibility is mine," Giuliani told reporters gathered outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's headquarters.

"I believe that these problems with blended families, you know, are challenges — sometimes they are," he said. "The more privacy I can have for my family, the better we are going to be able to deal with all these difficulties. And the best way to kind of handle that is to make as little comment about this as possible."

Giuliani, whose first marriage was annulled and second ended in divorce in 2002, has tried in the past to hold reporters at bay when it comes to his personal life, but this time Andrew, 21, took the relationship to the press, telling The New York Times that he and his dad are trying to reconcile after not speaking "for a decent amount of time."

Andrew's mother is Donna Hanover, who married Giuliani in 1983. Her and Giuliani's marital troubles began while he was still mayor of New York and the two separated in 2000.

Hanover accused Giuliani of sleeping with a former staffer, which he denied, but for a while it forced him out of Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence, and into a spare room at a co-op owned by friend and fundraiser Howard Koeppel.

Giuliani and Hanover have two children, Andrew and Caroline, 17. At the time of the separation, polls showed more than two-thirds of New Yorkers thought their marriage was a private matter.

In the Times article Saturday, Andrew alluded to Judi Giuliani. "There's obviously a little problem that exists between me and his wife."

Andrew, a Duke University student who aspires to be a professional golfer, later told ABC News' "Good Morning America," "I got my values from my mother. She's a strong influence in my life. She's a strong woman. I have problems with my father, but that doesn't mean he won't make a good president."

Andrew and his father weren't always estranged. At the mayor's 1994 inauguration, photographers snapped the young boy mimicking his dad and bounding across the stage. The two attended many Yankees baseball games together.

The dispute with his son sidetracked a Giuliani event that was intended to highlight his crime-fighting credentials. He met privately with sheriffs from Southern California and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who later introduced him at a brief news conference.

The Republican governor, who had not endorsed a 2008 candidate, called the former mayor "very successful," but his praise was more restrained compared to the compliments he lavished on rival candidate John McCain last week.

Schwarzenegger called the Arizona Republican a "great national leader" and "very good friend."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.