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In a new TV ad, Rudy Giuliani ladles praise on his mayoral disciple. “Joe Lhota is New York,” he says, as images flash of Lhota’s life as a born-and-raised New Yorker. It’s the first official campaign stamp from Lhota’s old boss, whom he served as a deputy mayor and liaison to Washington. But the argument Rudy makes for Lhota’s candidacy is one of self-plagiarism, in which he posits the candidate (and, in turn, himself) as “running the city” during 9/11–much to the dismay of Lhota’s rivals. Ugh, do we have to go back to 2008?
You might remember this little tidbit in the lead-up to the Democratic and Republican primaries in late 2007. To much applause and laughter, then-Senator Smokin’ Joe Biden captured the essence of Rudy’s campaign in three words: “a noun, a verb, and 9/11.” Maybe it was Giuliani putting all his money into winning Florida, but the Republican frontrunner at the time would soon falter under the weight of Biden’s sharp observation.
Of course, for good reason. In a column titled “Rudy Giuliani’s Five Big Lies About 9/11,” former Voice heavyweight Wayne Barrett highlights quotes from the old mayor’s 2008 campaign that focus on the theme he’s now projecting onto Lhota. The similarities are almost too easy. For example:
“Every effort was made by Mayor Giuliani and his staff to ensure the safety of all workers at Ground Zero.”
“Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”
“I don’t think there was any place in the country, including the federal government, that was as well prepared for that attack as New York City was in 2001.”
“I think the thing that distinguishes me on terrorism is, I have more experience dealing with it.”
The last talking point here resounds all too clearly with Rudy’s opening line in the new ad, where he says, “In these uncertain times, only one candidate for mayor has already proven he’s ready–Joe Lhota.” He later describes him as “one of the most effective leaders in my administration.”
The thematic transplant from 2008 to 2013 ties together Rudy and Joe in a different way, too. Just as Quinn falls under Bloomberg’s shadow, the criticism here is that these two candidates for mayor will extend the same policies of their designated forerunners. But, as this ad shows, Lhota wants to move beyond that and adapt basically the same campaign strategy as Rudy–something Quinn is financially and thematically unable to do with Bloomberg.
Should someone tell Lhota that Giuliani’s strategy failed in 2008? Eh, he’ll find out on his own.