DERRY, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, whose strained relations with his children have drawn unwelcome attention in the race for U.S. president, asked on Thursday that voters "leave my family alone."
The former mayor of New York conceded there were "complexities" among his relatives but said any troubled relationships were irrelevant to his performance in public life.
"I love my family very, very much, and I would do anything for them," he said at a town hall meeting. "The best thing I can say is, kind of, to leave my family alone, you know, just like I'll leave your family alone.
"If you want to judge me or I want to judge you, we'll judge each other on our public performance. I don't know your private life. You don't know my private life," he said.
Giuliani's college-age son Andrew has said he and his father are estranged and he decided to spend the summer playing golf rather than campaign for him.
Giuliani's daughter Caroline, bound for Harvard University this fall, recently posted support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama on her online MySpace profile, according to reports. The posting has since been withdrawn.
Other media have reported that Giuliani learned of his daughter's plans to attend Harvard by reading about it in a newspaper.
Giuliani is divorced from their mother, local television personality Donna Hanover, who was his second wife. He and Hanover went through an acrimonious separation after he publicly revealed he was seeing another woman, Judith Nathan, while he was still married. He and Nathan have since married.
Giuliani's remarks came in response to a question at the town hall meeting by a woman who asked how he could "expect the loyal following of Americans when you are not getting it within your own family."
His answer received applause from the audience of about 200 people.
"Whatever the issues of my private life, it obviously doesn't affect my public performance. I functioned very effectively as mayor of New York City, to such an extent that I had results that nobody else ever had," he said. "I would ask people to look at it that way. I think we have a much more honest kind of analysis of what we need in public office if we did it that way."