"I may not be able to change my father’s mind," Caroline Giuliani writes, "but together, we can vote this toxic administration out of office"

By Adam Carlson
October 15, 2020 04:31 PM
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From left: Caroline and Rudy Giuliani in 2003
| Credit: Carmen Valdes/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Rudy Giuliani's daughter, Caroline Giuliani, was about 12 years old when she started debating her dad about politics — "probably before I was emotionally equipped to handle such carnage," she writes in a new Vanity Fair essay.

"It was disheartening to feel how little power I had to change his mind, no matter how logical and above-my-pay-grade my arguments were," she writes of her dad, a New York City mayor-turned-Republican presidential candidate-turned Trump attorney.

"He always found a way to justify his party line," she writes, "whatever it was at the time."

The two split on the issue of same-sex marriage and, later, racism and sexism and the police and welfare programs, she says.

"Even when there was an occasional flash of connection in these disagreements with my dad, it felt like nothing changed for the better, so I would retreat again until another issue I couldn’t stay silent on surfaced," Caroline writes in Vanity Fair.

Decades later and father and daughter are still divided.

But, as Caroline, 31, makes clear in her candid new essay about her dad, about President Donald Trump and about the Nov. 3 election, she still has plenty to say.

"I accept that most people will start reading this piece because you saw the headline with my father’s name," she writes near the beginning of her piece, published Thursday. "But now that you’re here, I’d like to tell you how urgent I think this moment is."

Rudy Giuliani speaking at the 2020 Republican National Convention.
| Credit: Getty Images

Describing herself as "a filmmaker in the LGBTQ+ community who tells stories about mental health, sexuality, and other stigmatized issues," Caroline writes that she and her dad, 76, "are multiverses apart, politically and otherwise."

"I’ve spent a lifetime forging an identity in the arts separate from my last name, so publicly declaring myself as a 'Giuliani' feels counterintuitive," she writes, "but I’ve come to realize that none of us can afford to be silent right now. The stakes are too high."

While Caroline begins her piece remembering some of her differences with Rudy in childhood, she links her personal frustration to a larger mood in the country right now, as she sees it.

"It felt important to speak my mind, and I’m glad we at least managed to communicate at all. But the chasm was painful nonetheless, and has gotten exponentially more so in Trump’s era of chest-thumping partisan tribalism," she writes. "I imagine many Americans can relate to the helpless feeling this confrontation cycle created in me, but we are not helpless."

"I may not be able to change my father’s mind," Caroline writes, "but together, we can vote this toxic administration out of office."

Her Vanity Fair essay is not the first time she's been public about her Democratic views — but is perhaps the most notable, after previously backing Hillary Clinton and, in August, posting in support of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's running mate.

"In 2016, I realized I needed to speak out in a more substantial way than just debating my dad in private (especially since I wasn’t getting anywhere with that), so I publicly supported Hillary Clinton and began canvassing for congressional candidates," Caroline writes in Vanity Fair.

"What inspires me most about Vice President Biden is that he is not afraid to surround himself with people who disagree with him. Choosing Senator Harris, who challenged him in the primary, speaks volumes about what an inclusive president he will be," she writes.

Caroline also praised Biden for being "willing to incorporate the views of progressive-movement leaders like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren."

"In Joe Biden, we’ll have a leader who prioritizes common ground and civility over alienation, bullying, and scorched-earth tactics," she writes. (She adds: "Biden wasn’t my first choice when the primaries started. But I know what is at stake, and Joe Biden will be everyone’s president if elected.")

Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock; Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

This stands in contrast to Caroline's opposition to the Trump administration — and her father's connection to his politics, as Trump's personal attorney.

In her essay, she assails Trump's largely anti-LGBTQ record and resistance to climate change, among other issues.

"Trump and his enablers have used his presidency to stoke the injustice that already permeated our society, taking it to dramatically new, Bond-villain heights," she writes. "Women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people of color are all also under attack by Trump’s inhumane policies."

In a barely veiled criticism of her father, Caroline writes: "If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with 'yes-men' and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power."

In her essay, she describes the sometimes fiery fights between her and her father, when she was young: "I distinctly remember him firing back with an intensity fit for an opposing politican rather than one’s child."

"To be clear, I’m not sharing this anecdote to complain or criticize," she writes. "I had an extremely privileged childhood and am grateful for everything I was given, including real-world lessons and complicated experiences like these. The point is to illustrate one of the many reasons I have a fraught relationship with politics, like so many of us do."

Even so, she writes that she had to speak out.

As she told Politico in 2016: "I love Hillary, I think she's by far the most qualified candidate that we've had in a long while. My dad knows. I was for Barack in 2012. He knows and is fully comfortable with it and thinks I have a right to my opinion."

Responding on Twitter Thursday to criticism she was being disrespectful to Rudy, Caroline replied: "I personally think it's respecting them to be the educated and intelligent adult they should want me to be."