Credit Nancy Siesel/The New York Times
Most people probably can’t identify any senior advisers to presidential candidates, but one member of Donald J. Trump’s brain trust has been skywriting his name across the national news.
That would be Rudolph W. Giuliani, once-upon-a-time mayor of New York City.
Moving from television camera to camera as a Trump avatar after this week’s debate, Mr. Giuliani has held forth provocatively on Hillary Clinton’s response to former President Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.
“And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president,” Mr. Giuliani said earlier this week.
In an interview on Thursday, he said that since he thought Mrs. Clinton was “highly intelligent,” he should have added: “Or you’re lying.”
Mr. Giuliani said he was not attacking Mrs. Clinton for Mr. Clinton’s activities, but questioning her feminist credentials. Nevertheless, he invoked decades of rumors about Mr. Clinton’s behavior and linked Mrs. Clinton to them in various ways — but he introduced them with “If true,” and concluded, “I’m not telling you that’s true or not true.”
Perhaps the standards for decent behavior during domestic turmoil are worthy of conversation in a presidential race. If so, it is still hard to think of two people with less standing to conduct public finger-wagging than Mr. Trump, whose affairs were carried out on the front pages, and Mr. Giuliani, whose second marriage came to a crashing end when, as mayor, he took an after-dinner stroll up Second Avenue with the woman who would become his third wife.
Between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump, their marriages outnumber the Clintons’ six to one, with no shortage of the miseries that go along with domestic wreckage.
Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times
Those who lived in New York in 2000 may recall that Mr. Giuliani announced the end of his second marriage at a news conference in Bryant Park, before telling his wife at the time, Donna Hanover. When she refused to leave the mayor’s official residence, where she and the two children had lived for nearly seven years, Mr. Giuliani’s divorce lawyer said that someone would have “to pry her off the chandelier to get her out of there.” On Mother’s Day, the lawyer said that Ms. Hanover was “howling like a stuck pig.”
That ugly moment wasn’t his fault, Mr. Giuliani said: His lawyer was simply responding to something his wife’s lawyer had said, and had made those remarks without his authorization. “I told him never to do it again, and he never did it again,” Mr. Giuliani said. Nor, he added, has he ever spoken critically of his ex-wife in public.
In an interview recorded this week by a reporter with Elite Daily, a website focused on millennials, Mr. Giuliani said that he believed Mr. Trump had held back during the debate by not going after Mrs. Clinton harder.
After the revelation of Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, a 22-year-old intern, and before the president owned up to it, Ms. Lewinsky was the subject of negative stories circulated by Clinton surrogates. “Instead of just being silent and supporting him if that’s what you want to do, you become one of the major attackers of the person making the allegation,” Mr. Giuliani said.
The actual public record of comments by Mrs. Clinton about Ms. Lewinsky is sparse, if not barren. She told a friend that her husband was to blame but also spoke disparagingly of Ms. Lewinsky, according to a private diary that was released in 2014.
During the debate Monday night, Mrs. Clinton quoted nasty remarks Mr. Trump had made about a young beauty pageant contestant who had gained weight.
“You know, she made that attack on Trump for the way he treated women,” Mr. Giuliani said. “She hasn’t treated women much better.”
Mr. Trump renewed his insults of the beauty queen on the morning after the debate.
The leaves of Mr. Giuliani’s own political career long ago browned and curled, but the Trump presidential campaign has offered him one more season in the sun. At the Republican National Convention in July, he spoke apocalyptically about the state of the country. “There’s, there’s, there’s no next election,” he said. “This is it. There’s no more time for us left to revive our great country.” Psychologists may wonder if he was projecting onto the country the shortening calendar for his own revival.
Having served as a preparation coach for Mr. Trump ahead of the debate, Mr. Giuliani told The Associated Press afterward that he believed there was no need to adjust their approach. “Why would we change if we won the debate?” he asked.