In talk at UF, Giuliani focuses on leadership

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Phillips Center for Performing Arts on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Gainesville, Fla.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:21 p.m.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that he wrote most of his book on leadership before the 9/11 attacks, waiting four months afterward before picking it up again.

"I realized that when I wrote the book, I thought I had been through everything, but the fact is you're never through everything," he said Thursday at the University of Florida. "You always have some other challenge that you haven't anticipated."

Giuliani spoke to a crowd of about 900 people at UF's Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Giuliani served as New York mayor from 1994 to 2001, leading the city during the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath.

His speech was disrupted twice within the first 10 minutes by 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Giuliani dished insults at them, telling one that he needed to get a haircut and take a shower, as they were thrown out.

"I feel like I'm in New York," he said. "It could be Times Square."

Giuliani unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, dropping out after finishing a distant third in the Florida primary. With Florida preparing to vote next week in another Republican presidential primary, Giuliani said he thought than any GOP candidate but Ron Paul was ready to take on President Barack Obama.

"Who's the most ready to take on President Obama? That's not a tough task," he said.

His speech centered on leadership skills, with Giuliani citing examples from 9/11 and the other parts of his tenure as mayor. When he first arrived at the World Trade Center on the morning of the attacks, he said, he thought he was seeing debris fall from one of the towers.

When he realized that it was a man jumping from the building, he said, he realized the city was dealing with something for which it had never prepared. But he said the city had 25 other plans for various types of disasters and parts of those plans were used to help direct emergency responders.

"That is what relentless preparation is all about ... The key to being a great leader is practice," he said.

He spoke of addressing challenges as mayor such as crime and moving people from welfare to work. The New York Times wrote editorials calling him mean for the welfare effort, but the effort was successful in moving hundreds of thousands of people from the welfare rolls.

"I have all those editorials now, and I have written at the top of them, ‘I told you so,'?" he said.

ACCENT, UF's student-run speaker's bureau that is funded by student fees, paid $65,000 for Giuliani's speech. Speaking about the Occupy Wall Street movement, Giuliani referred to them as "dirty, sloppy slobs" and said being good or bad had nothing to do with the amount of money someone had.

"There's nothing wrong with success. There's nothing wrong with wealth. There's nothing wrong with great wealth," he said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or For more stories on the University of Florida, visit

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top