NEW YORK — With little sleep and a lot of coffee, Judith Giuliani has been charging from one RNC event to the next with nothing short of gusto.
Unlike some politicians’ wives who look like weary cheerleaders, she’s still fresh-faced about her role as Rudolph Giuliani’s wife and the breakneck schedule that entails. After a tea in her honor Tuesday at the Women’s National Republican Club, Giuliani said, “I never imagined this. I’m a nurse. But it sure is terrific.”
It may get better. The former New York mayor is among the party’s golden boys and speculation about a 2008 presidential bid trailed him all week. In regard to a White House run, Judith Giuliani said, “Whatever he wants to do. My parents have been happily married for 50 years because they always supported each other. Rudy loves public service. That is not a secret.”
She has taken to it nicely, too. Unfazed by the stream of strangers who repeatedly interrupted her conversations for a quick word or a snapshot, Giuliani is a quick study. “I think it would be a terrible thing to be involved with politics if you didn’t like people,” she said. “Whether you agree or disagree — they all have something to say.”
While the convention has called for more events than she cares to tally, Giuliani, Changing Our World’s managing director and a registered nurse who specialized in infectious diseases, has quickly grown accustomed to her jam-packed days. Before the Republicans came to town, she and her husband took a two-day trip to Singapore where they managed to squeeze in nine holes of golf each day between his speaking engagements.
“We both can live with very little sleep,” she said. “I drink lots of coffee. That’s something I started years ago in the hospital.”
They’re also planning a trip to Russia in the coming weeks. These days they don’t spend much time apart. Her husband surprised his wife at the tea and even buzzed by Oscar de la Renta’s showroom with her Monday to pick up six or seven pieces in half an hour. Dressed in a de la Renta bouclé suit and Chanel bag, Giuliani said, “I have no room for shopping in my life.”
She is also a fan of Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang, and tends to favor pieces that can be worn all day, save for the occasional blouse change.
“That to me is the sign of a good designer, when you can buy something off the rack that will take you from breakfast through dinner,” Giuliani said.
But she has weightier things on her mind than designer clothes. Wednesday morning the Giulianis were front and center for the groundbreaking of the Rudolph W. Giuliani Trauma Center at St. Vincent’s Hospital, a facility that Judith Giuliani has been instrumental in setting up. Aside from being one of the most advanced emergency medicine facilities in the country, it will be equipped to treat patients exposed to infectious diseases or biological agents.
“There will be an entire unit for teaching,” she said. “Unfortunately, with terrorism, we can’t just put our heads under a pillow anywhere in America and think, ‘This can’t happen to me.’ When push comes to shove and when anything is done, that [the hospital] is where people wind up.”
Giuliani is executive director of St. Vincent’s campaign to raise $100 million for upgrades. While health care is her real concern, the trilingual Giuliani said she prefers speaking with people one-on-one. The same is true with family time. In line with the Giulianis’ work-hard, play-hard mentality, cell phones are pretty much prohibited. Judith Giuliani has a daughter from a previous marriage and the divorced former mayor has a teenage daughter and son from his marriage to Donna Hanover.
“When we’re with the kids, we do what we’re doing with them and focus entirely on what we’re doing with them,” she said.
— Rosemary Feitelberg