Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani asked for privacy on Monday to deal with strained relationships within his family, including the estrangement between his son and his third wife.
Campaigning in Southern California, Giuliani faced questions about his family after his son, Andrew, publicly said their relationship had become distant after Giuliani's messy divorce from Andrew's mother, Donna Hanover, and his later marriage to Judith Nathan.
"My wife Judith is a very loving and caring ... mother and stepmother. She has done everything she can. The responsibility is mine," the former New York mayor told reporters gathered outside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's headquarters.
"I believe that these problems with blended families, you know, are challenges - sometimes they are," he said. "The more privacy I can have for my family, the better we are going to be able to deal with all these difficulties."
Father and son dispute
The New York Times reported Saturday that Andrew Giuliani and his father have recently tried to reconcile after not speaking "for a decent amount of time." In the Times article, Andrew said, "There's obviously a little problem that exists between me and his wife."
He told the newspaper he would not participate in his father's campaign, saying he intended to concentrate on becoming a professional golfer. The 21-year-old Duke University student told ABC News' "Good Morning America," "I got my values from my mother. She's a strong influence in my life. She's a strong woman. I have problems with my father, but that doesn't mean he won't make a good president."
The dispute with his son sidetracked a Giuliani event that was intended to highlight his crime-fighting credentials. He met privately with sheriffs from Southern California and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who later introduced him at a brief news conference.
The Republican governor, who had not endorsed a 2008 candidate, called the former mayor "very successful," but his praise was more restrained compared to the compliments he lavished on rival candidate John McCain last week.
Schwarzenegger called the Arizona Republican a "great national leader" and "very good friend."
Giuliani's personal life was a staple of New York tabloid headlines during his later years at City Hall. Hanover accused Giuliani of having an affair with a former staffer, which he denied. At one point, the mayor began staying away from the official mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion, and sleeping at a co-op owned by friend and fundraiser Howard Koeppel. Giuliani and Hanover reached a divorce settlement in 2002.
The couple had two children, Andrew and Caroline, now 17.
Giuliani's first marriage was annulled.
Andrew Giuliani is probably best remembered as the bumptious kid who bounded across the stage and parroted his father's gestures at his 1994 mayoral inauguration. He often was seen at his father's side at Yankees baseball games.