Oprah: You can't even go into a restaurant without people applauding.
Rudy: That's no different from having them stand and boo! No, really—people do respond to me much more positively now, and I am more open with them. I just hug everybody.
Oprah: How did you handle the times when people were unkind to you?
Rudy: First of all, I don't read a lot of it. I block it out. You have to keep a strong sense of who you really are—and I have a pretty strong sense of myself. It gets me in trouble when I say this, but I don't think of myself as a politician. I've always tried to be honest when communicating with people.
Oprah: Isn't it more fun to be popular?
Rudy: My father taught me an important lesson—though I have to disagree with him just a little bit now. He'd tell me, "It doesn't matter if you love me, but I want you to respect me. And if you respect me, then ultimately, you'll love me." As mayor, I used to always feel the important thing is that people respect me, not love me—but it is really much nicer when they love you, too. I'm going to try to keep it that way.
Oprah: Maybe you don't know what your sudden popularity means because you've always been the same person—it's people's perception that has changed.
Rudy: I think so. After I found out I had cancer, people used to ask me, "Did this change you as a person?" My answer was "Yes and no." You're still the same person, but you gain all sorts of new insights.
Oprah: Are you a better person now than you were on September 10?
Rudy: I hope so. I understand the value of life a lot better.
Oprah: What has your relationship with your former wife, Donna, been like since the tragedy?
Rudy: That hasn't changed very much.
Oprah: And have your two children come through the separation okay?
Rudy: My kids are remarkable. We have a very good relationship—and Donna has a good relationship with them, too.
Oprah: What do you say to your children about the attack?
Rudy: I just had a long conversation with my daughter about it today. I talk to my children the same way I talk to adults. Maybe if they were small children, I'd talk differently.
We Hear You!