WASHINGTON - The International Association of Fire Fighters accused Rudy Giuliani yesterday of exploiting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because a supporter is holding a $9.11-per-person fund-raiser for the Republican presidential candidate.
The union, already a vocal critic of Giuliani's, said that the fund-raiser's "$9.11 for Rudy" theme is an abuse of the image and symbols of the attacks.
"It is nothing short of disrespectful to the legacy of the thousands of civilians and 343 brave firefighters who died at ground zero," union president Harold Schaitberger said.
Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd, who has been endorsed by the firefighters' group, weighed in with a statement from his campaign calling the theme "unconscionable, shameless, and sickening."
Another Democratic candidate, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, said the event was "overdoing it."
"You know, we shouldn't use a tragedy for politics," Richardson told New Hampshire reporters on a conference call.
A Giuliani spokeswoman said the $9.11 idea was selected without the campaign's knowledge.
"These are two volunteers who acted independently of and without the knowledge of the campaign," spokeswoman Maria Comella said. "Their decision to ask individuals for that amount was an unfortunate choice."
Giuliani supporter Abraham Sofaer is slated to hold the fund-raiser at his Palo Alto, Calif., home today, when Giuliani backers across the country are participating in the campaign's national house party night.
Sofaer said he had nothing to do with the decision to ask for the $9.11.
"There are some young people who came up with it," he said, referring other questions to Giuliani's campaign.