Firefighters initially moved to snub Giuliani

Citing a “disgraceful lack of respect” for firefighters killed in the 9/11 attacks, an influential union initially decided that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani would be the only presidential candidate not invited to the union’s upcoming presidential forum.

In a draft letter that was never finalized, International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger and other affiliate officers wrote “the disrespect that [Giuliani] exhibited to our 343 fallen FDNY brothers, their families and our New York City IAFF leadership in the wake of that tragic day has not been forgiven or forgotten.”

However, the firefighters changed their minds and Giuliani was subsequently invited to speak at the forum scheduled for next week. He accepted the invitation but pulled out of the event late Wednesday.

The forum will include 2008 candidates from both parties.

In the draft letter obtained by The Hill, Schaitberger and other union officials say Giuliani, in November 2001, “sharply” reduced the number of firefighters allowed to search the remains at Ground Zero. The letter estimates the number allowed to search was cut from 300 to 25.

When firefighters and family members protested the move, 15 firefighters, including some union leaders, were arrested.

Giuliani eventually changed course and allowed the firefighters back to Ground Zero.

Giuliani's campaign did not comment by press time.

“Our disdain for him is not about issues or a disputed contract, it is about a visceral personal affront to the fallen, to our union and, indeed, to every one of us who has ever risked our lives by going into a burning building to save lives and property,” the draft letter states.

It concludes with the union leaders urging members, if contacted by Giuliani or a campaign representative, to “say not just, ‘No,’ but ‘Hell no.’”

Giuliani, whose stature rose nationally in the days following 9/11, earning him the nickname, "America's Mayor," is soaring in national and most state polls.

Giuliani's campaign did not comment by press time.