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KING OF CRISIS <br> WITH THE HEART OF HIS CITY SUFFERING FROM THE TERRORISTS' DEATH BLOW, NEW YORK'S MAYOR RISES TO THE OCCASION WITH STEADINESS, GRACE AND GRIT

On the seventh day, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani didn't rest -- not even a little bit.

It has been a week since a terrorist attack leveled the World Trade Center, and thanks largely to his uncanny ability to appear to be everywhere during this grim period, New York's mayor has risen from the ashes of the tragedy as an unequivocal hero of the moment.

His steady leadership during the crisis has prompted calls for emergency legislation to extend his term.

The Republican mayor's second term expires Dec. 31, and elected officials are barred by the City Charter from serving more than two terms.

"We are at war," Rabbi Arthur Schneier said in a letter to the New York Times published Tuesday. "Emergency legislation should extend Mayor Giuliani's term for two years. We need the continuity of the Giuliani administration, tried and tested like no other before, to heal the wounds, help us emerge from the rubble and extensive loss of life, and lead the reconstruction and renewal of our city."

The Legislature and Republican Gov. George E. Pataki would have to enact emergency legislation to extend Giuliani's term.

Legislative leaders said Tuesday there was little chance for such action.

But even one of the men seeking to replace Giuliani has suggested the mayor stay on.

"If it was up to me, I'd keep everything in place," City Council Speaker Peter Vallone said earlier this week. "I think in times of crisis, the best thing to do is not make dramatic changes." Later, Vallone seemed to reconsider, saying, "We have to abide by the decisions of democracy."

Giuliani has distanced himself from the speculation and has shared credit for the city's reaction to the crisis.

"It's really been an inspiration the way New Yorkers have responded,"
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Giuliani: 'He's on the scene. He's courageous. He doesn't hide'
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he said.

Before Sept. 11, the 57-year-old Giuliani was winding down his second term as a polarizing figure. This GOP mayor in an overwhelmingly Democratic city had continued to exude the kind of controversy that formerly attracted both widespread support and very vocal opposition.

But the attack changed that. Giuliani's grace under pressure -- an ability to be both hopeful and honest, without masking his personal pain -- has helped deliver a measure of normalcy to a city on the brink of psychic meltdown.

Giuliani's performance has been universally hailed -- so much so that he has weakened the knees of even his most vociferous political adversaries.

"I think Rudy has eliminated all the bad feelings that, without question, existed toward him before," said Edward I. Koch, former New York mayor and author of the 1999 book "Giuliani: Nasty Man."

"Giuliani was seen as a bully," Koch said. "That's all washed out, in my judgment. His leadership in this catastrophe means he leaves office (Dec. 31) with the affection of his citizens. They wish he could stay. You couldn't say that before."

Giuliani had been going through a rough patch. A possible run for the U.S. Senate was derailed last year after Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and his pending divorce from actress Donna Hanover -- and public romance with girlfriend Judith Nathan -- cast his political future into doubt.

Now negative evaluations of Rudy Giuliani on the streets of New York are as rare as a Mets cap in the Bronx.

"I feel a sense of strength from him," said Rosalyn Nadel, a city employee -- and registered Democrat -- from Brooklyn. "We need to have strong leadership right now. We can't have someone who looks like they'll fold like a cardboard box."

"He's on the scene. He's courageous. He doesn't hide," said Asferd Agbere, an employee of Gray Line Tours who emigrated from the West African nation of Togo 10 years ago. "He's always there, especially for people who lost relatives."

Consider Giuliani's overstuffed appointment book since the morning of Sept. 11, when he was so close to the disaster scene that he was forced to flee. He has offered encouragement at hospitals and family assistance centers; attended the funerals of top firefighters and the Fire Department's chaplain; joined with Koch and former Mayor David Dinkins to plan a memorial service for Sunday; showed up at the New York Stock Exchange and the Mercantile Exchange on Monday; toured the rubble frequently; prodded the city's police, fire and emergency services personnel to keep on plugging; and met with the city's business leaders, as well as Gov. George E. Pataki and President Bush, to lead the cheers for New York's resurrection.

Giuliani's news conferences, held often, have given the former "bully" a chance to connect with a bewildered populace in ways he was never able to before.

With a gap-toothed skyline glowing in front of him, Giuliani has been prowling lower Manhattan from dawn until dusk in a silver Chevrolet Suburban. He can identify with the city's pain and shock, because he, too, has been dislocated by Tuesday's attacks. His office at City Hall had to be abandoned because power in the neighborhood had been knocked out.

A former federal prosecutor, Giuliani long has been security-conscious. He even built a $13 million emergency shelter that he proudly called "The Bunker." It was impregnable, the mayor said, the perfect place to hold out from a natural disaster or terrorist strike.

The Bunker now is a pile of dust. It was on the 23rd floor of one of the smaller buildings of the World Trade Center complex, and collapsed soon after the terrorist strikes flattened the twin towers. Since then, Giuliani has had to relocate the city's command headquarters several times, scrambling to find an appropriate spot.

At his side throughout the crisis has been Pataki, a fellow Republican clad in a State Police jacket and hat, and by all accounts every bit as much an effective leader. Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, who toured the trade center site Friday with Bush, Giuliani and Pataki, said the overwhelming response toward the mayor and the governor from emergency workers reinforced the positive aura now surrounding them.

"All of America has gotten a close look at the mayor as he's given a par excellence performance," Reynolds said. "And the governor has learned through experience how to have a steady hand. The two of these men have performed with A ratings."

Though the two have never shared anywhere near a close political relationship, they have managed to more than tolerate each other through the crisis. During Sunday's memorial service in St. Patrick's Cathedral, they embraced when honored for their performance by Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the archbishop of New York.

"Congress has stood behind the president," Reynolds said, "and I can tell you as a former leader in the Assembly, it is clear to me that unity has prevailed in Albany on dealing with this crisis."

But it is Giuliani who has remained the leader closest to the destruction, most intimate with the grief and confusion. Amid the carnage, the sometimes caustic and distant Giuliani has come across as focused and feeling. He cried on "Good Morning America." He pleaded with people not to vent anger toward Arab-Americans.

"We are above that," he simply said.

Seeking to unite the city, Giuliani has asked that petty differences be set aside during this time of crisis.

He even hugged Hillary Rodham Clinton, once his political enemy and now New York's junior Democratic senator.

It's a far cry from the tough, confrontational Giuliani who over the past several years has presided over a dramatic reduction in crime but has alienated blacks and other minorities in the process. Few are criticizing him for that now.

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