Giuliani Defends Italian Heritage After Criticism for 'Godfather' Impersonation

Rudy Giuliani's campaign is emphasizing his ethnic pride after the White House hopeful earned criticism this week for his recent impersonation of Don Corleone in "The Godfather" while on the campaign trail.

"Mayor Giuliani is proud of his Italian heritage and has a record celebrating the country's culture and the important contributions Italian-Americans have made to New York City and the United States," according to a statement released by the campaign reported in Newsday.

Giuliani, the grandson of Italian immigrants, took his impersonation of Marlon Brando, to California voters at a recent campaign speech.

"Thank youse all very much for invitin' me here tuh-day, to this meeting of the families from different parts'a California," Giuliani said.

Click here to read the report.

Giuliani also used the mob's code of honor in defending his wife after reporters wrote about his comments in an interview that she would attend Cabinet meetings if he was elected president.

"I am a candidate. She's a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction," Giuliani said, referring to his wife Judith Nathan Giuliani.

Dona De Sanctis of the Order Sons of Italy in America, the nation's largest Italian-American organization, told the newspaper that Giuliani needs to stop impersonating Corleone because it's a stereotype that draws a link of being Italian and a member of the mob.

"We don't think it's funny," De Sanctis said of such jokes. "We stopped laughing a long time ago."

Joseph Scelsa, president of the Italian American Museum in New York and the Coalition of Italian American Associations, told Newsday he supports Giuliani and the impersonations don't bother him.