NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been invisible during the general election campaign of fellow Republican Joe Lhota, will finally make his first appearance on his former protégé's behalf in the race's final days.
Giuliani, a polarizing figure in the city he used to govern, campaigned sparingly for Lhota during the Republican primary. But he has not done any public events for his one-time deputy mayor since Lhota became the GOP nominee.
Lhota, who is badly trailing Democrat Bill de Blasio in the polls, said Thursday that Giuliani, who now runs a consulting firm, was about to return to New York after traveling overseas.
"We've been texting each other back and forth and we'll coordinate something," Lhota told reporters after an unrelated campaign appearance in Brooklyn.
Lhota told The Associated Press in August that Giuliani's capacity on this campaign was "generally informal." Giuliani did host a few fundraisers for Lhota, particularly on conservative Staten Island, and appeared in one televised campaign ad.
But even though he has not been physically present during the general election campaign, Giuliani's presence has helped shape the race.
His supporters, like Lhota, credit Giuliani with the city's historic drop in crime, while detractors accuse him of being divisive and confrontational. Many in the city, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6-to-1, also soured on Giuliani when he adopted far more conservative positions to make himself more palatable in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries.
De Blasio claims that Lhota's new ad, which features graphic images of violence to suggest that the city would return to its crime-filled past if the Democrat is elected, was reminiscent of the tone of Giuliani's administration.
"It's race-baiting and it's fear-mongering," said de Blasio during the candidates' Tuesday night debate. "Anybody who looks at that ad knows what he's up to and it's what his boss, Rudy Giuliani, used to be up to. And it's not what a mayor should be doing."
Lhota frequently defends Giuliani, who he credits for beginning the city's "renaissance." On Thursday, he snapped at reporters who asked about his former boss' reputation.
"The race is about the future," he said. "You bring him up, my opponent brings him up, I don't bring him up, I am getting sick and tired of talking about the past, let's talk about the future."
Lhota offered no details about Giuliani's possible involvement.
The general election is Nov. 5.