Who’s Tougher on Crime: Romney Or Giuliani?

Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani used a recent fiasco involving one of opponent Mitt Romney’s judicial appointees to make political hay in the press:
“He had an increase in murder and violent crime while he was governor,” Giuliani said. “So it’s not so much the isolated situation which he and the judge will have to explain — he’s kind of thrown her under the bus, so it’s hard to know how this is all going to come out. But the reality is, he did not have a record of reducing violent crime.”

In response, Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades said in a statement: “It’s troubling that Mayor Giuliani would politicize this tragedy, but the fact is under Governor Romney violent crime in Massachusetts decreased…”1

Judiciary Contributes to Violent Crime

A brief back-story seems in order. The judge above-mentioned was appointed by then-Governor Romney released a violent felon who displayed persisting hostile intent.

Superior Court Judge Kathe M. Tuttman “overruled a lower court ruling and released convicted killer Daniel Tavares Jr. in July”. Judge Tuttman also rejected “prosecutors’ request to set his bail at $50,000 after he was arrested on assault charges.”2

Also, Tavares had “threatened to kill the governor, the attorney general of MA, Bristol County Sheriff, and other law enforcement officials when released,” according to a Massachusetts Department of Corrections document.3 In addition:

Tavares, 41, also had a long rap sheet, including eight busts on drug and robbery charges, before he hacked his mother to death and slashed a man in 1991, according to a criminal registry report.4

Apparently, none of this evidence swayed Judge Tuttman’s decision to release Tavares on his own recognizance for his latest felony arrest.

Tavares fled Massachusetts after being released.5 Four months later, Tavares pleaded not guilty to the murder of a married couple in Washington state, even though he admitted to his motive:
Though he pleaded not guilty, Tavares allegedly admitted during a taped interview that he shot the victims following a verbal fight with Brian Mauck.“He claimed that Brian Mauck verbally insulted him and that Beverly Mauck verbally insulted [Taveres’s wife] Jennifer Tavares, and that ‘after spending 20 years in prison’ he was not going to put up with being called an insulting name,” the News Tribune reported, quoting court documents.6

Though highlighting how a weak judiciary contributes to violent crime, the rest of this article will focus on violent crime rates:

· to determine who was telling the truth in this article’s initial quote, and

· as a way to ascertain which candidate might be tougher on criminals if elected president.

Romney’s Record

Romney was Massachusetts governor from January 2, 2003 through January 4, 2007.7 The latest FBI crime data available is from 2006. From the end of 2002 through 2006, the Massachusetts murder rate increased 7.3%, rape decreased 2.2%, robbery increased 12.0% and aggravated assault decreased 14.8%. Since aggravated assault comprised 65.3% of the 2006 violent crime rate, the overall rate dropped 7.8% from 484.9 in 2002 to 447.0 in 2006.

There is one more factor: Did Massachusetts reflect the overall U.S. violent crime trends during the same time period? For example, if the national violent crime trend was positive, Romney’s record would be remarkable for bucking the general trend.

Compared to the U.S. rates, Massachusetts trailed the murder rate trend by 6.3%, rape by 4.4%, robbery by 9.7%, only beating the national trend in aggravated assault by 7.1%. Again, based upon the fact that aggravated assault comprises nearly two-thirds of the overall violent crime rate, Massachusetts beat the national trend by 3.6%.

Even counting total incidents reported for 2002 and 2006, Massachusetts saw a drop from 31,137 in 2002 to 28,775 in 2006. No matter the comparison––total incidents or rates per 100,000 population––Giuliani was wrong to state that Massachusetts saw a violent crime increase while Romney was governor.8

Giuliani’s Record

Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City (NYC) from January 1, 1994 through December 31, 2001.9 The earliest, readily-available FBI crime data is from 1994. During the time period of 1994–2001, the NYC murder rate decreased 62.0%, rape decreased 47.5%, robbery decreased 64.5% and aggravated assault decreased 42.0%, for an overall rate decrease of 54.3% from 1,860.9 in 1994 to 851.0 in 2001.

Compared to the U.S. rates, NYC beat the murder rate trend by 24.7%, rape by 28.6%, robbery by 26.9%, and aggravated assault by 25.5%, leading the national trend by 25.0%.10


Despite his one public speaking error, Giuliani nevertheless wins bragging rights on the topic of which candidate has a better record addressing crime while in office, if violent crime trends are any indicator.

About the Author

Howard Nemerov is a columnist for Texas State Rifle Association’s TSRA Sportsman and “unofficial” investigative analyst for NRA News. He can be reached at HNemerov [at sign] Netvista.net.


[1] Uproar Over Mass. Judge Who Released Killer Takes Political Tilt for Romney Campaign, Fox News, November 25, 2007. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,312743,00.html

2 Ibid.

3 Michele McPhee and Jessica Van Sack, ‘Disruptive’ con earned good behavior time off, Boston Herald, November 22, 2007. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1046368

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Jessica Van Sack, Report: Suspect confessed to slaying ‘fun-loving’ couple, Boston Herald, November 21, 2007. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1046152

7 Mitt Romney, Wikipedia, last modified November 25, 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitt_Romney

8 FBI data compiled into Excel spreadsheet. Email request for copy.

9 Rudy Giuliani, Wikipedia, last modified November 22, 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Guiliani

10 FBI data compiled into Excel spreadsheet. Email request for copy.

2008 Presidential Crime

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