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In shift, Giuliani to talk of family

Rudy Giuliani wants the focus to be on his public performance. Rudy Giuliani wants the focus to be on his public performance.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- In the past 10 days, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has provided terse answers to questions about his faith and family, insisting both matters should be private, even for a presidential candidate. Yesterday, he softened his objections, saying he is willing to talk about them, but he will do it his way.

Both matters are of particular interest to religious conservatives, an important constituency in the Republican Party, but Giuliani repeated that he believes his candidacy should be judged on his performance of public duties as a mayor and a federal prosecutor.

After a grip-and-grin stop at Chez Vachon, a West Side eatery, Giuliani was asked whether his recent remarks mean he never intends to discuss those subjects. "Oh, sure I will, but I will talk about it appropriately and in a way to preserve, as much as I can, the privacy of my family and my children, which I think any decent person would," Giuliani told reporters.

On Thursday, a voter had asked Giuliani at a town hall meeting in Derry why voters should back him when his own children do not, and the GOP candidate retorted: "There are complexities in every family. . . . The best thing I can say is kind of 'Leave my family alone, just like I'll leave your family alone.' "

Giuliani's daughter recently indicated she was supporting Democrat Barack Obama for president, and his son was estranged after the very public breakup of Giuliani's marriage to their mother, Donna Hanover, in 2000.

Last week in Iowa, Giuliani declined to discuss his Roman Catholic faith, telling a voter in Davenport: "My religious affiliation, my religious practices, and the degree to which I am a good or not-so-good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests."

He had been asked whether he was a traditional, practicing Roman Catholic. In addition to supporting abortion rights in contradiction of church teachings, Giuliani remarried without a church annulment of his marriage to Hanover.

"I've talked about my faith, but even parts of that are personal," Giuliani told reporters yesterday in Manchester. "So I think the best thing to do is to concentrate on the public things that I've accomplished, measure that, take a look at that, and then see how much do newspapers really have to probe into these things or how much of it is being done for reasons that really have nothing to do with measuring public performance."

Giuliani, however, said he has no problem with personal questions being asked.

"In politics, you are entitled to ask any question you want, and then I'm entitled to answer it any way that I want," he said.