After months of avoiding criticism of Pat Buchanan, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is now blasting the conservative isolationist who has been accused of anti-Semitism.
Giuliani’s spokeswoman this week said the mayor "strongly opposes" Buchanan’s presidential bid, and blasted comments in Buchanan’s new book that the United States shouldn’t have fought Hitler.
"The mayor hasn’t read the quote, but would not be surprised if he made those comments given comments he has made in the past," said Giulianiís press secretary, Sunny Mindel. "The mayor has always voiced his strong opposition to Buchanan’s comments in the past."
Actually, Giuliani has refrained from rapping Buchanan for the past several months since he formed an exploratory committee and began seeking Republican support for his Senate bid.
Back in 1996, while running for re-election, Giuliani blasted Buchananís views on immigration, calling the former Nixon White House staffer and CNN commentator "a man who I don’t think understands what America is all about." Giuliani’s aides later touted that denunciation as evidence the mayor put principle before party loyalty.
But in July, during a fund-raising swing in the south to woo Republican supporters, Giuliani dismissed questions about Buchanan (who once called Capitol Hill "Israeli-occupied territory") as an attempt by the press to "find ways in which to divide us," according to the New York Post. He later said that any of the Republican candidates for president, including Buchanan, would be better qualified than Democratic Vice President Al Gore.
The change comes as Buchanan, lagging badly in GOP polls, is virtually certain to bolt the party to seek the Reform Party nomination for president. Buchanan may face a Reform showdown with Donald Trump. The millionaire developer this week denounced the view in Buchanan’s book, "A Republic, Not An Empire," that Hitler posed no threat to the United States after 1940.
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, responded to the comments by calling for Buchanan to be "purged from the political bloodstream of this country." He added: "Politicians are reluctant in general to confront other politicians unless they are in another party. [Giuliani] should be applauded for doing it."
But Giuliani still seems cautious when it comes to Buchanan. Mindel originally said Giuliani does not believe Buchanan is "qualified to be president." She later amended her statement to say the mayor, who is likely to support Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president, "strongly opposes" Buchanan’s presidential bid.
Rep. Gary Ackerman, the newly appointed congressional delegate to the United Nations, missed his first day of work Monday. But he had a good excuse: It was Yom Kippur.
In his first action as a delegate, Ackerman, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens and Long Island, blasted the General Assembly as ìinsensitive and disrespectfulî for holding its first meeting on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
In a phone interview as he left the UN for Washington Tuesday, Ackerman said the scheduling was "at best a tremendous insensitivity, and another sign that the UN could be more evenhanded." Ackerman said the world body has refrained from meeting on other holy days, such as Christmas or the first day of Ramadan.
The appointment of congressional delegates alternates between the House and Senate. Two legislators are selected based on seniority on the House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Also selected as a delegate this year was Rep. Peter King, a Nassau Republican, who also boycotted the opening session, as did President Bill Clinton, who addressed the UN on Tuesday.
The latest Marist College poll shows first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton gaining back most of the Jewish support she lost this summer, following an "eternal Jerusalem" declaration taken by many as pandering.
The poll now shows Clinton with 50 percent of the Jewish vote. In July, she dropped 20 points from an April poll to 37 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Jews surveyed support Giuliani in the undeclared Senate race, about the same as the July poll. The number of Jews surveyed in the latest poll is slightly larger than July, at about 11 percent of the 717 respondents.
Helping to secure the release of spy Jonathan Pollard has become a top priority for Assemblyman Dov Hikind, he has said recently.
Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat, recently held a rally outside the first lady’s Senate exploratory committee, calling for her position on whether the former Navy intelligence analyst who gave secrets to Israel should receive clemency. Clinton continues to dodge the issue.
But Hikind doesn’t seem to be taking his case to all the political players. Gov. Bush of Texas, who comes to town on Oct. 5 for a major fund raiser, has shown no sympathy for Pollard.
"If elected president, the governor will review the facts in the case," said Bush 2000 press secretary Mindy Tucker. "But based on the facts publicly available now and the strong feelings of the national security community, he doesn’t see any reason to grant clemency."
Hikind says he won’t mount a protest outside the Manhattan fund raiser. "We haven’t focused on George W. because Hillary is much closer, and is running here," said Hikind. "She is a candidate who has come to New York and wants to know what’s on everyone’s mind."
The host of the New York dinner is Gov. George Pataki, a strong Hikind ally who is on the short list of potential Bush running mates. Hikind says he would love to see Pataki become vice president. "I’m an incredible fan of George Pataki, and having him on that ticket would make a lot of [Jewish] people feel nice in their gut," said Hikind. "He’s a great friend of the Jewish community." But Hikind insists he would not endorse the ticket if he disagreed with Bush on matters of principle.
After nearly five years as executive assistant at Pataki’s community affairs office here, Jeff Wiesenfeld has been appointed the $115,000-a-year regional director of the Empire State Development Corporation for New York City. Wiesenfeld, recently appointed a trustee of the City University of New York, will continue to serve as a Jewish liaison to the governor on major issues, although many of his responsibilities will be assumed by Jonathan Greenspun.