Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani visited campus on April 21, speaking in the Colgate Memorial Chapel about American politics and the need for resolute leadership. The talk, which was presented by the College Republicans, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization and the Budget Allocations Committee (BAC), was followed by a Question and Answer session. Before the talk, Giuliani visited the Hamilton Fire Department and he also had dinner with Colgate students after the event.
Political Science Professor and Director of the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization Robert Kraynak introduced Giuliani, who identified the former mayor as being known for three things: his career as a prosecutor working with the U.S. Department of Justice, his time as mayor of New York City from 1993 to 2001 and his prominence as a leader of the city in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Giuliani explained that he believes that leadership itself can be taught. He also identified what he believes is one of the key tenets of leadership.
“The most important thing in a leader is knowing what he or she wants to accomplish…You have to have strong beliefs and you have to know where you want to go. If you don’t know what you want, how can you lead anyone there?” Giuliani said.
Guiliani used this point to criticize the current Obama administration, expressing disappointment about what he sees as the current President’s lack of direction.
“The concept for the last two years has been that…the President leads by following. That’s a contradiction,” Giuliani said.
Guiliani went on to cite former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as examples of leaders who struck a good balance between ideologue and pragmatist.
“Unfortunately, with a few exceptions in which he has compromised, the President is more ideologue than pragmatist…which has led to an already fractured situation becoming more torn,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also spoke about the current gridlock in Congress and its cause.
“Politics has always been very vicious…and that’s because people have strong beliefs which conflict with each other. The situation in Congress isn’t a manufactured problem… but one that emerges from democracy itself,” Giuliani said.
To overcome this, Giuliani emphasized the importance of compromise and said he hates how today it has become a toxic word in politics.
Besides addressing domestic issues, Giuliani also touched on current international situations and friction between the U.S. and countries such as China and Russia. He repeatedly stressed the importance of the U.S. building up its military strength, stating that the U.S. needs to regain respect in the international community.
“America is the leader of the world; we need to do the best we can to police it and we need military power to do so,” Giuliani said.
In the question and answer session, Giuliani said intimidation through military prowess is a way to ensure peace.
Giuliani fielded questions from audience members on a variety of topics for over
Questioned about his stance on gun control, the qualities of a good candidate for public office, the election of New York major Bill de Blasio and the state of the public school system in New York City, Giuliani took all questions in stride, restating many of the points he made during
Giuliani was asked about his role as mayor in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, a role for which he won Time magazine’s Person of the Year award and received an Honorary Knighthood by the Queen of England for. Giuliani responded that he drew strength and inspiration from the people surrounding him.
Most of the attendees seemed to come away with something from the lecture, regardless of their political stance or previous knowledge of the mayor.
“While I disagreed with several of Giuliani’s statements, he was a charismatic and intelligent speaker. He clearly believes strongly in his values and offered insights into how pragmatism rather than idealism is useful in politics,” senior Molly Gilson said.
Sophomore Kevin Costello was among the group of students who ate dinner with the former mayor after his lecture.
“He and I fundamentally disagree on some key issues but as dinner went on, I grew to like him rather quickly. He’s genuine in a way most politicians aren’t and we could all tell he was happy to be sitting there conversing with us…he didn’t hesitate to engage with us on virtually any issue,” Costello said.