- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg never disparaged Rudolph W. Giuliani even as he was undoing much of the work of his celebrated predecessor, a veteran political consultant said.

The reticence was a fine example of “the Bloomberg style,” Doug Muzzio told Newsday.

In another sunny evaluation, Bill Cunningham, the mayor’s communications director, suggested that Mr. Bloomberg was capturing “flies with honey” rather than “yelling and screaming.”

Days later, in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Mr. Bloomberg drew harsh contrasts between his administration and that of the man who had endorsed him. During Mr. Giuliani’s two terms, he said, “every single decision, everybody, every story, everything, was always couched in terms of race. That’s not true anymore.”

In an article titled “The Mogul of City Hall,” he said Mr. Giuliani wanted to make all of the decisions, as if he were fire commissioner and police commissioner. Mr. Bloomberg said he, on the other hand, preferred “to pick people and let them do it.”

Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, author of “Giuliani: Nasty Man,” said Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks indicate that he is starting to fight for a second term.

“He knows he wouldn’t be mayor without Rudy,” said Mr. Koch, “but he was following his deep Freudian urges.”

Mr. Bloomberg defended his smoking ban by equating the number of deaths from secondhand smoke to lives lost on September 11, when Mr. Giuliani gained wide admiration for his leadership.

The silent reaction in the Giuliani camp had an ominous ring.

Mr. Bloomberg is a billionaire mayor, but Mr. Giuliani is said to command $100,000 for speeches, was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year and has been knighted in the United Kingdom by Queen Elizabeth II.

When asked about his remarks, Mr. Bloomberg simply complimented his three predecessors.

Political analysts say the mayor finally is distancing himself from Mr. Giuliani and trying to broaden his own political base.

Thomas V. Ognibene, a former city councilman from Queens who has announced he will oppose Mr. Bloomberg for the Republican nomination in 2005, said the mayor’s political base is limited to Manhattan.

He said Mr. Bloomberg, who was a lifelong Democrat until the 2001 mayoral race, “doesn’t have anyone in his organization who thinks the way a Republican does.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s contributions may have cemented his relationship with state party officials, but his increases in taxes and fees — including an 18.5 percent raise in the real estate tax — have hurt his image among Republicans.

The smoking ban didn’t help. Many Republicans saw it as an example of a liberal philosophy devoted to changing behavior.

“Ultimately, he’s gone back to the liberal Democratic tradition,” Mr. Ognibene said. “Republicans feel betrayed.”


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