NEW YORK - Less than three weeks from the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has been battered by scandalous revelations about his business dealings and personal life, and yet he's still running strong in the national polls.
According to the Dec. 18 numbers, Giuliani was still ahead of his competitors nationally: running third in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had taken the lead, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and fourth in South Carolina.
His standing in South Carolina may get a boost: On Dec. 18, Giuliani announced on his Web site that the South Carolina Veterans for Rudy Leadership had endorsed his candidacy. The announcement named four retired military leaders in the group.
Giuliani started the race with a solid lead because his name had the greatest recognition of all the Republican candidates. This recognition came in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, when Giuliani's handling of the disaster earned him the title of ''America's Mayor.''
But his image has been tarnished recently by a series of revelations about his personal behavior and judgment published in the Washington Post and other media:
*In November, Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's former close aide and the man he had recommended to President Bush to head the Homeland Security Department, was charged with 16 counts of corruption, mail and tax fraud, obstruction of justice and lying to the government.
*In December, stories emerged that the city's comptroller wrote to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in January 2002 questioning why Giuliani's office had moved most of its $620,000 in travel and security expenses to little-known agencies such as the Loft Board and the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office. Auditors ''were unable to verify that these expenses were for legitimate or necessary purposes,'' Comptroller William Thompson Jr. wrote.
It turned out that some of the ''security'' travel expenses included bodyguards who accompanied Giuliani's visits to the Hamptons, where Judith Nathan - with whom he was having an extramarital affair - had a condo. Giuliani was married to Donna Hanover at the time. He informed Hanover that their marriage was over via a press conference on 1010 WINS radio station, and then tried to evict her and their two sons out of Gracie Mansion, the mayor's residency. He has since married Nathan.
*In December, Giuliani reaffirmed that he continues to hold a financial stake in Giuliani Partners, a security consulting firm he started in 2002 after leaving the mayor's office, and said the company's client list will remain confidential. The firm is said to have reaped more than $100 million in the last five years providing services to, among other clients, ''a pharmaceutical company mired in a lengthy investigation, a confessed drug smuggler looking to ensure that his security company could do business with the federal government and the horse-racing industry, which was eager to regain public confidence after a betting scandal,'' according the Washington Post. But other clients' names were not listed on the company Web site; two of the most controversial included the Qatar government, and a partnership in a proposed Southeast Asian gaming venture involving relatives of a Hong Kong billionaire with ties to Kim Jong Il's North Korean government and international organized crime, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
What has all this to do with Indian country? Nothing. And neither does Giuliani, at least according to his Web site, which contains no mention of American Indians or the issues important to them.
Giuliani's office did not return calls seeking a comment or an interview.