Rudy to the Rescue

Katrina stuns, Bush stumbles—time to call the master of disaster

Those fuzzy findings only stoked the anger of some 9-11 family members, who feel that the lessons of the 1993 attack, the problems with responder radios, the risks of putting the command center at 7 WTC, were all pooh-poohed by the commission. "When you have a system by which no one is held accountable and the mantra that comes out of an investigation is there was a lack of imagination, everyone's at fault so no one's at fault, and you don't have accountability for decisions that were made that were either right or wrong, and naming names," Gabrielle says, "what you have is a perpetuation of failed leadership, failed responses, and thousands more walking in the same shoes as the 9-11 victims, which we tried so very hard to change."

Giuliani's status as a national figure with a rep based on crisis management is rare. Most potential presidents represent an idea or philosophy; Rudy's asset is that he's considered a good guy to have around when things go wrong. Dwight Eisenhower had a similar appeal. So did Herbert Hoover, who gained fame for coordinating food aid to people around the world in the 1920s, saving thousands of lives. "People don't remember that because, of course, as president he was a disaster," says University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato.

The beauty of being known as a crisis manager is that it has bipartisan currency, which is why 9-11 could be a big asset for Giuliani—and a big target for his rivals.

"The Democrats would have to try to tar him with some of the points made by the 9-11 Commission, even about some of the events on the day of the chaos that ensued, the lack of communication," Sabato says. Like what happened when John Kerry made Vietnam Exhibit A in his case to the voters. "We'll be his Swift Boat," vows Gabrielle.

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