By Christine Csencsitz
On Jan. 26, UF hosted former-New York Mayor and United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani.
UF’s Accent Speakers Bureau hosted the event. The Accent program, which claims a national reputation, works to engage the student body through events with “prominent, controversial and influential” speakers.
Giuliani has been deemed “America’s Mayor.” His presence in U.S. politics has spanned no less than four administrations. To most, though, he is known for his leadership throughout the tumultuous months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The evening’s turnout was impressive with a filled theater. Ideologies aside, the night came together in a bipartisan showing of Gainesville community. Giuliani spoke without an overt agenda and left students with an inspiring message.
The beginning moments of Giuliani’s talk were interrupted by a long-haired protester, who shouted at the speaker from his seat mid-audience, asking for an explanation as to “what happened with building seven.”
“You are too rude to be entitled to an answer,” Giuliani said, with great composure as the man was escorted from the auditorium. He then quipped that the man ought to get a hair cut.
Giuliani was undeterred by this interruption, and one that followed a few minutes later, and went on to outline his speech.
“I’m going to talk to you about leadership,” he said from the podium as he began to list the six principles he considers paramount to success. Learned throughout his tenure in office, the principles were at once relatable to college students as well as the political arena. He would dabble with stories from his own career and his time in politics before diverging into real-world applications of each trait.
With emphasis placed on a strong set of beliefs, Giuliani cited Ronald Reagan, a hero of his, and his quest to shrink the ever-growing government.
“Government had gone from helping to mocking people in poverty,” said Giuliani, who was a strong advocate of welfare reform during his time in office, a quest that did not exactly boost his popularity.
Giuliani went on to list optimism and courage as other traits required for success. He called upon Winston Churchill as an example of a realistic optimist. Next, he talked exclusively of his time in office, giving the audience a glimpse into his battle with the “ungovernable” New York.
Serving to guide the speech towards the looming topic of terrorism, he began to speak of relentless preparation, relating this to how a lawyer prepares for his or her time in court. Many times, he returned to an old mentor of his, a judge for whom he had worked.
“Something unexpected will always happen,” Giuliani explained, calling upon the adage of the judge.
Throughout the evening, Giuliani dabbled in discussing the September 11th attacks, but he saved the bulk of the description until the end. Giving the audience an idea of what his day had been like up until the news of the attacks — he was having breakfast in Midtown Manhattan when he heard the news — and what it was like after the second plane hit the tower. However chaotic the efforts were directly after the attacks, they were buoyed by previously installed plans for smaller-scaled emergencies, like an anthrax scare and periodic blackouts on the island.
“If you prepare for everything you can think of,” he said, “you can prepare for even the unexpected.”
Giuliani’s used the final point in his speech to discuss the importance of effective communication in a leader. Referencing his highly criticized “Job Stat System,” he upheld that his desire was to help maintain the dignity of those on the program—to change what it meant to be a welfare worker.
The evening was decidedly apolitical in terms of the upcoming presidential election, aside from a few comments made by Giuliani during the question-and-answer session that followed his speech. One of the pre-screened questioned prompted a lightly-colored opinion from Giuliani, who called each candidate capable, with the exception of Ron Paul.
“Very few people get to success by accident,” Giuliani explained early in his talk, directing his words to the students sitting before him.
His speech did just what the Accent program set out to do: to educate, enlighten, engage and entertain.
Giulani has evolved into a controversial political player over the years. Some love him, others fear him to be a second-coming of George W. Bush . What do you think of “America’s Mayor”?