LOS ANGELES – How does Hillary Clinton beat Rudy Giuliani?
The answer is simple. Experience. She has it. He doesn’t. And it’s already beginning to show.
If you have any doubts, just pick up the paper and see Rudy bleed.
Friday's top stories included the news that the former New York mayor was, in fact, briefed back in 2000 that his choice for police commissioner had close ties to organized crime figures. And if that weren’t bad enough for a guy who is running on crime and 9/11, the families of New York firefighters are making news again by claiming that Giuliani was part of the problem that cost their loved ones’ lives, not the solution.
New Yorkers have heard it before, at least from the firefighters. Their complaint about the first responders carrying the same radios that were used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing is as familiar as their beef with the mayor for locating the city’s emergency center at the Trade Center, and for prematurely ending the search for bodies.
But the rest of the country hasn’t. They haven’t heard from Sally Regenhard, whose son was among the firefighters killed on 9/11, and who says of Giuliani: "If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out. If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime — that's indisputable. But when he runs on 9/11, I want the American people to know he was part of the problem."
But they will. How much do you want to bet she ends up in an advertisement? And is anyone going to vote for Rudy because the nation needs a leader who can deal with squeegee men?
oreover, even New Yorkers have yet to hear the full details of the relationship between the mayor and the police commissioner who has since pleaded guilty. They will. And then there’s Giuliani’s other relationships: to his wives, to his clients, to his children. The list goes on. There is much to learn. Who knew that Judi Nathan Giuliani had a husband before the "first husband"? Who knew that Rudy's kids can’t stand him? What else don’t we know?
The point is that Rudy hasn’t run for anything in a decade. He has never run outside of New York City. He thinks he’s been through the wringer, but it’s only just begun. He thinks New York prepares you for anything, but it doesn’t. The standards are different. The tolerance level is different. Running for president is like nothing else in politics.
Hillary Clinton may be, as she sometimes says, the most famous person that people don’t really know, but there’s hardly anything about her, especially a criticism, that we haven’t heard. The skeletons in her closet have been on public display so long that they don’t even qualify as secrets. She may be tightly controlled, she may sometimes sound programmed, but she doesn’t lose it and she rarely makes mistakes. Is there any question she hasn’t been asked at least once? Is there any subject she can’t address?
Can the same be said of Rudy? What happens the first time he makes a mistake?
I’ll tell you what happens: Everyone points out that this (whatever it is) is, after all, “new” to him, not part of the mayor’s job, not what he’s been doing his whole life. Exactly.
It isn’t just experience as a candidate that gives Hillary the advantage.
Is there any doubt that she knows the issues facing the president better than Rudy does? Just in terms of knowledge and familiarity, she beats him hands down.
You don’t have to convince people that your opponent would be a bad choice to win their votes. Just a risky one. The safe choice beats the risky one any day.
The more dangerous the world we live in, the less we can afford to take a risk with who leads it. The question becomes not who you like, but who you trust. That’s how Hillary wins.
By running on 9/11, Rudy Giuliani inevitably is raising the stakes in the presidential race. In the long run, though, that may end up helping Hillary more than it does him.
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Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California. She was previously Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and was the first woman President of the Harvard Law Review. She is a columnist for Creators Syndicate and has written for USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.
Estrich's books include the just published “Soulless,” “The Case for Hillary Clinton,” “How to Get Into Law School,” “Sex & Power,” “Real Rape,” “Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System,” and "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women.”
She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel, in addition to writing the “Blue Streak” column for foxnews.com.