She's No Charity Case: Rudy's Judi Dives In

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T he Rev. Peter Larsen knows a little bit about political egos and society snobs. A former assistant at Washington's St. John's Episcopal, the so-called church of presidents, and now a pastor in New York's Hamptons and chairman of Southampton Hospital, he's seen 'em all. But he really didn't know what to expect when Judith Giuliani, wife of GOP presidential front-runner Rudy, asked to tour the hospital a day before they were to host a charity dinner. "She didn't want to just come to a dinner and lend her name in support. She wanted to see what was going on," he says. "None of the hosts ever asked to do that."

What he found was a former nurse "who knew what she was talking about" when chatting with docs in the emergency ward, in the ICU, and at the mammogram screener. "It didn't look like it was just put on for politics," he says of Judi, the subject of some recent nasty news stories. Surprised that the Giulianis kept their commitment—made before the presidential campaign—to host the $1.6 million fundraiser, Larsen was also wowed by what the duo raked in on their own at the August 4 dinner: $30,000 for a round of golf with them. Better yet: They agreed to a second round when another attendee bid $30,000. Even more: Judi offered to continue helping. "She was not a phony," says Larsen. "I was impressed, yes."