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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Giuliani’s brand problem

Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani has a brand problem: he is perceived as being mean.

“Rudy Giuliani’s temperament is well known in New York. He’s quick to anger, an egomaniac, very stubborn, throws tantrums and is generally, well, mean. Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter: ‘His ridiculously thin skin and mile-wide mean streak were not allegations made by whiners and political opponents. They were traits widely known to his supporters.’” (http://www.rmchronicle.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1138)

Right now, what’s saving him is the collective memory of Giuliani on 9/11: ashen through the streets of New York City, uttering brave and reassuring words.

But there is a darker underside to the candidate: “Many probably now regret their decision (to elect Giuliani) after seeing Giuliani's mean-spirited assaults on the poor and on freedoms guaranteed by the bill of rights during his term in office.” (http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2006/05/11/giuliani-time/)

And again:

“Giuliani was mean enough to be New York’s greatest mayor. Is he too mean to be president?” (http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YWFmYTc2MzEzM2U2OTQ3NjVkNTRjMjEyOWJlMTVjYzg=)

The irony of it is that if you read Giuliani’s book Leadership, you begin to understand that what comes across as meanness may actually be a steely rationale behind his governance strategy. He is willing to make the tough choices needed to make a city (country) work and he has the numbers to back up his strategies.

Nevertheless, he can’t be elected if he is perceived as mean. And the problem is, he looks mean too. Time for some major image upgrades, especially if he is going to run against Hillary. She, I’m sure, can be mean when she takes off the gloves, but her image is that of a composed centrist above all. Right now, he is simply no match for her.