Sunday, May 21, 2000

Giuliani put sense before politics

        In the presidential campaign of 1912, Teddy Roosevelt committed what was either the most courageous or most idiotic act in the long and often inglorious history of American electioneering.

        By then, Roosevelt was an ex-president who was upset at his successor and former protege, Cincinnati's William Howard Taft.

        So the Rough Rider became a third party candidate for president, standard-bearer for the Progressives.

        While he was stumping for votes one day in Milwaukee, Roosevelt was shot in the chest by an insane barkeeper, minutes before he was to make a speech before a full house in a convention hall.

        Most other sentient human beings, carrying around a thoracic bullet wound, might cancel their schedules for the rest of the day.

        But not T.R. He went on stage, the slug still in place, and delivered a two-hour stem-winder before collapsing in a heap offstage.

        Heroic? Nutty? Take your pick.

        New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani faces something potentially more deadly than a gunshot wound in prostate cancer. On Friday he dropped out of New York's U.S. Senate race.

        It was a sad day for the Amalgamated Association of Political Pundits and Talking Heads (AAPPTH) Local 101, whose membership was looking forward to a cruiserweight battle with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

        Politicians, after all, are human beings too, some

        slightly mutated. And, as humans, there is only so much they can be expected to bear.

        For Mr. Giuliani, battling cancer, having his marriage fall apart, trying to raise children and making New York City work all at the same time proved to be too much.

        So he decided there are more important things in life than being a United States senator. We are always surprised when a politician has such an epiphany, but we shouldn't be.

        This turn of events may not have them dancing on their desktops at Hillary! campaign headquarters.

        Now it appears likely the Republican candidate will be U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio, who does not carry the baggage or temperament or bad relations with huge blocks of New York voters that the mayor does.

        New York Republicans are hard at work trying to figure out how to get the $9 million the Giuliani campaign raised to the campaign account of whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be.

        Mrs. Clinton has been doing quite well with fund-raising herself. And one good source, believe it or not, is good ol' conservative Cincinnati.

        Cincinnati lawyer Stan Chesley, who raises millions for Democratic causes, hosted a fund-raiser for the first lady at his Amberley Village home in December that netted $75,000. He would be happy to do more.

        As of the end of March, Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner and members of his family had kicked in $14,000 to the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign but not one plugged nickel to Mr. Giuliani's exploratory campaign.

        She may need every penny of it. Even without the Bull Moose of New York to kick around.

        Howard Wilkinson can be reached 768-8388, or