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Bill Simon: Educating Rudy

Monday, 22 Oct 2007 05:39 PM

Rudy Giuliani’s policy director Bill Simon is the strategist most responsible for honing the former New York City mayor’s conservative credentials as he heads for the Republican primaries.

Simon, the 56-year-old son of Richard Nixon’s Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, is a former gubernatorial candidate in California, a close friend of Giuliani – and a longtime conservative insider.

“Starting last fall, when Giuliani first called Simon and said he was running for president, Simon has been more responsible than anyone for Giuliani's policy education,” the Washington Post reports in a lengthy analysis of the Giuliani campaign.

“He has been the agent charged with managing the sometimes eager, sometimes awkward relationship between the former mayor of a liberal city and the conservative establishment. Well before Giuliani said publicly that he would be a candidate, Simon put him through a rolling seminar that those in the campaign called Simon University, bringing in thinkers to brief Giuliani on key issues.”

Those “thinkers” include neoconservatives Norman Podhoretz, John Bolton, and R. James Woolsey Jr., who advise on foreign policy; Michael Boskin of the Hoover Institution, an adviser on taxes and economic policy; retired Generals Anthony Zinni and Jack Keane, and military scholar Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute.

“Simon is an incredible asset for the Giuliani campaign," conservative activist Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told the Post.

"He has the added advantage for Giuliani of being a serious social conservative and a pro-lifer, which gives people some assurance that social conservatives and judges will not be ignored."

While Giuliani likes to focus on national security and his experiences as New York mayor, Simon has led him to stress positions that might appeal to the Republican Right, including his conservative views on taxes and his strict-constructionist stance on judges.

“This has left Simon managing two ambitious, politically essential projects at once: helping to demonstrate that Giuliani is a conservative, and trying, through Giuliani, to ensure that his corner of the conservative movement is still powerful enough to pick the Republican nominee,” the Post observes.

Simon, whose father was also a wealthy bond trader, attended law school at Boston College and went to work for Giuliani, who was then the U.S. attorney in New York. But by the late 1990s he had moved to Los Angeles and was helping to run his family’s investment firm, while serving on the boards of several conservative groups, including the Hoover Institution.

In 2002, Simon sought the California governor’s post, running as the conservative candidate in the Republican primary. He upset the GOP favorite, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, but lost the general election to incumbent Democrat Gray Davis by five percentage points.

By then, Simon had shared a fateful moment with then New York City Mayor Giuliani – the two were having breakfast together, discussing Simon’s gubernatorial campaign, when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Over the next few days, Simon watched Giuliani step to the forefront in dealing with the tragedy and become “America’s Mayor.”

Said Simon: “As I watched Rudy on TV, I wouldn’t say I was surprised about how he reacted, but I will say I was proud to be his friend.”

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