- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

NEW YORK Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who won international acclaim for his handling of the World Trade Center crisis, announced yesterday that he would not seek to run for a third term on the Conservative Party line.

"Maybe I was in a different world," said Mr. Giuliani, referring to his change of heart from last week when he announced that he wanted to remain in City Hall despite term limits.

The mayor also said that, in the face of the mammoth task of rebuilding lower Manhattan, he still hopes to extend the transition period for his administration to April. But he and his staff will not actively pursue this objective.

Legislative approval would be required for such a change and most political observers believe that Mr. Giuliani's bid for an extension has hit a wall. Nevetheless, the mayor seemed to be pleading his case once more.

"My advice to the candidates based on the good of the city is that they should have a significantly longer transition period," he said yesterday. "I can't change that. That is my good faith analysis of what is best for the city of New York. And I think that anybody who thinks they're ready for this job on January 1, given the monumental tasks that lie ahead, doesn't understand this job really well."

Mr. Giuliani said he made the decision not to seek a third term for one reason: "I thought it would not be a good idea because it would lead to division and it would lead to litigation, and the city doesn't need division and litigation at this time. The city needs every effort we can make to keep it unified."

The mayor said he had called Conservative Party leader Mike Long to tell him not to add his name to the ballot. Terry Gray is the conservative mayoral candidate already on the ballot.

Mr. Giuliani's retreat comes at a time when he is enormously popular. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found his approval rating had soared to 90 percent.

In recent days, Mr. Giuliani and his aides told political leaders here and in Albany that if they did not agree to allowing his administration three extra months, he would run for mayor on the Conservative Party line.

The idea, he said, was to overcome "politics as usual." His efforts to convince them ran into a storm of political maneuvering that effectively crippled his chances to overturn term limits and remain in city hall.

Mr. Giuliani's announcement was the latest unexpected turn in a mayoral campaign that has been dominated by his presence from the start.

Although term limits prevent the mayor from running for a third term, he became a campaign issue as the candidates weighed their promises against Mr. Giuliani's progress in reducing crime and reviving the economic life of the city.

Republican candidate Michael R. Bloomberg handily won last week's primary. The top two Democratic candidates, public advocate Mark Green and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, will face each other in an Oct. 11 runoff election.

Mr. Green agreed to Mr. Giuliani's plan to extend his time in City Hall, but later said he could have done "as well or better" during the WTC emergency. Mr. Ferrer, who is backed by the Rev. Al Sharpton and based his campaign on a need to serve "the other New York," flatly rejected Mr. Giuliani's overtures.

Mr. Bloomberg said he would support the mayor and even offered to keep him and his staff on board should he win the election.

Mr. Giuliani's statement yesterday was preceded by a perceptible fading away of support in the state Legislature to overturn term limits. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno backed away from Mr. Giuliani's appeals, and black legislators exerted pressure on the leadership.

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