Giuliani’s Run: History's got a mixed message

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No United States senator has been elected president since John F. Kennedy in 1960, but former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is challenging an even more formidable historical hurdle: No former mayor has been elected president since Grover Cleveland of Buffalo in 1884 and Calvin Coolidge of Northampton, Mass., in 1924.

And no mayor has ever become president without serving first in some other elective office beyond City Hall.

“Should Rudolph Giuliani attain the presidency in 2008 he will have faced down this longstanding record,” Michael H. Ebner, a history professor at Lake Forest College, said in a telephone interview.

Professor Ebner, writing on the History News Network, a Web site, quoted the columnist Walter Lippmann as concluding that what cost another New Yorker, Gov. Alfred E. Smith, the presidency in 1928 was voters’ antipathy to Smith’s “distinctly urban values,” rather than opposition to his Roman Catholicism alone.

Mr. Giuliani, who would be only the second Catholic president and the first of Italian heritage, faces an additional hurdle: “urban values” have tended to resonate more with Democratic voters; before he faces them, he must win the nomination from Republicans....

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