Lhota: 'This race isn't about Rudy Giuliani'
Joe Lhota has Rudy Giuiani in his corner, which he thinks is a good thing, on balance.
Giuliani is very well known, and is definitely in a position to help Lhota, as a surrogate, with name recognition. But Giuliani is still a divisive figure.
A Quinnpiac poll yesterday showed Giuliani was viewed favorably by 48 percent of voters. Forty-two percent said they'd view his endorsement of a mayoral candidate as a positive.
Mayors often see their poll numbers rise after they leave office, when they're no longer required to be making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions on a daily basis, and come to be viewed as elder statesmen rather than grasping politicians.
But Giuliani never really stopped grasping.
He had a disastrous run for president in 2008, in preparation for which he tied himself in ideological knots to try to appeal to voters in red states, and his involvement in the 2009 mayor's race was as unhelpful as it was short-lived.
Two weeks ago, a front-page Times story declared, "Giuliani is determined to play an outsized role in the race."
"I know Rudy Giuliani. I like Rudy Giuliani. I worked with him during his administration. But we’re completely different people," Lhota said, in an interview with Colin Campbell.
I asked Lhota about that in a brief interview today.
He said the comment about being "completely different" from Giuliani was "in response to a question" from the reporter, who asked him how different he was.
Lhota told me, "It's not something I voluntarily brought up."
He also said, "I think Rudy will help me."
When I asked about how visible Giuliani might be in the campaign, Lhota said, "It's too early to talk about strategically or tactically" using specific surrogates. He did say he could envision sending Giuliani to campaign in Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island on a given night.
When I asked him about his former boss' poll numbers numbers, Lhota said, "The numbers are the numbers," but he added, firmly, "This race isn't about Rudy Giuliani. This race is about me. That is important to get across."
He said any campaign that is "trying to talk about my candidacy and automatically talking about Rudy Giuliani makes a big mistake in doing that. I am the candidate."