The Sports of Politics

Sizing up the Republican front-runners' big league credentials
April 29, 2007

A decent sandlot catcher as a youngster, Hizzoner was the Yankees' most ardent supporter during his tenure as mayor of New York City (1993--2001). When the Bombers won the 2000 World Series, Giuliani told kids they should take a page from his occasionally delinquent boyhood and skip school to attend the victory parade. "Yes, I played hooky to play baseball, and somehow I survived it to become mayor," he said. Giuliani was turned on to golf by his son, Andrew, who is on the Duke golf team. As mayor, he spent $12 million to improve the city's public courses.

McCain wants to cut wasteful spending, but his track record shows he has trouble being frugal. A boxing junkie who fought at Annapolis, he once said, "I always vow that I'm not going to pay the $49.95 [for pay-per-view], and then 15 minutes before the fight, I do." After he was shot down in Vietnam, his captors demanded that he I.D. the airmen in his squadron; McCain (above, with Muhammad Ali) rattled off the names of Packers linemen instead. As a senator from Arizona, he has pushed through boxing-reform legislation and tried to make pro leagues adopt tougher steroid penalties.

As governor of Massachusetts (2002--06), Romney made basketball the state's official sport, but he's got football in his genes: He's named for Milton Romney, a first cousin once removed who played for the Bears in the 1920s. An avid runner (he was on the track team in high school) and skier, he was hired in 2002 as the CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Romney (right, carrying the torch in Turin in 2006) took over an organization that was beset by a bribery scandal and financing problems and put on a Games that turned a $100 million profit.