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Firefighters criticize Giuliani in new video

WASHINGTON -- In a video being released today, New York City firefighters and their families criticize former mayor Rudy Giuliani for his handling of the Sept. 11 , 2001, terrorist attacks.

Many firefighters have a history of animosity toward Giuliani, now a leading Republican presidential candidate.

They argue that Giuliani's administration failed to provide adequate radios for first-responders at the World Trade Center. And they remain angry at his decision to speed the removal of the enormous pile of rubble at ground zero, cutting back the size of the group searching for remains.

"He's not a leader. He is running on 9/11, and it's all a fallacy," says Jim Riches, the father of a Sept. 11 victim and a deputy New York fire chief, in the video.

The International Association of Fire Fighters produced the 13-minute video and is distributing it to its 280,000 members, to the media, and online.

Giuliani's campaign said the union leaders do not speak for the rank and file. Late yesterday, the campaign sent out a three-page summary of Giuliani's history of supporting firefighters.

"Firefighters across the country have no greater friend than Rudy Giuliani," said Howard Safir, who served as fire commissioner and later police commissioner under Giuliani.

"Those of us who have worked with Rudy Giuliani know he has always been a constant supporter of firefighters and first-responders," Safir said in a statement issued by the campaign.

Forum on gay issues
NEW YORK -- The leading Democratic presidential contenders will participate in a forum on gay issues next month, co sponsored by a major gay rights advocacy group and a cable channel aimed at gays and lesbians.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards have agreed to appear in the live, one-hour forum in Los Angeles on Aug. 9. The program is a joint effort by the Human Rights Campaign and the LOGO cable channel, which will broadcast the event. LOGO will also stream the forum live on its website. Senators Chris Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr. declined the invitation to appear at the forum, citing scheduling conflicts. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio have not said whether they will attend.

Former Alaska governor Mike Gravel was not invited to participate because he did not meet the $100,000 fund-raising threshold, said Brad Luna, Human Rights Commission spokesman.

The candidates will appear one at a time to field questions on gay marriage, HIV/AIDS, hate crimes, and other issues. Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Commission president, and singer Melissa Etheridge will host the forum.

In the Democratic field, only Kucinich and Gravel support gay marriage rights.

The major contenders oppose gay marriage but support same-sex civil unions that confer most of the same legal rights. (AP)