Italian-American groups are suggesting that Republican presidential front runner Rudolph Giuliani cut the comedy, and put his Vito Corleone imitation on the shelf for the rest of his campaign. Gangster references in a couple of recent speeches, the groups say, are not doing Giuliani or them any good.
“Thank youse all very much for invitin’ me here tuh-day, to this meeting of the families from different parts’a California,” Giuliani said, recycling his old New York gag to laughter and scattered applause.
Then this week, Giuliani used the reference again, invoking the mob’s code of honor to explain why reporters should lay off his wife. “I am a candidate. She’s a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction,” he said.
The candidate would face a much more difficult test if, as expected, his old friend Bernard Kerik is indicted on federal wiretapping and tax evasion charges. Giuliani made Kerik his police commissioner in New York City, took him on as a business partner when Giuliani finished his term as mayor, and recommended Kerik to President Bush to become homeland security secretary, a nomination that had to be withdrawn when possible ties to organized crime were alleged.
Giuliani, who is in fact a godfather (to two of Kerik’s children), says he’s learned from his failure to fully investigate his old friend’s background.