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Presidential Campaigning with the Top Down

By Joel Achenbach
FORT MYERS, Fla., 1:45 p.m. -- Sixty-eight degrees, a dry breeze from the Gulf, nothing but sunshine, the palm trees waving like old friends. We're not in the Frozen North anymore, the camera guys are in shorts and tees, and the golf carts putter down the fairway at Fred Thompson speed. Now we know why Rudy's been campaigning here! Such a very pleasant place to talk about terrorism and 9/11 and what a dump New York used to be. This is presidential campaigning with the top down. Poolside conference calls! Stay in a hotel suite the size of a par 3. When you're not stumping you can work on the short game. Polls may be grim for Rudy today, but his putter's on fire!

The room at the Shell Point retirement community is full, with some retirees outside saying they've been turned away. A quick sampling of opinion finds this to be friendly territory for Giuliani -- a lot of retired New Yorkers are around here, and they applaud Giuliani for turning the city around. And this is conservative territory.

"Solid Republican," says Hugh Barbour, a retired book publisher who lives here at Shell Point.

"We have some Democrats that filtered in from the East Coast. My community's 90 percent Republican," says Paul Kascsak, a businessman who lives in a nearby neighborhood called The Landings. Giuliani will take Florida, he predicts. "I think the media is disgraceful, the way they say he's finished, he's done."

Giuliani takes the stage and is animated and relaxed. Tanned, one might note in a just-the-facts spirit. He works the stage with a wireless mike, wearing a dark suit, shirt with starched collar, red tie, flag pin in the lapel. His message: Stay on offense against terrorists, cut taxes, grow the economy. Keep America secure. He mentions not only terrorists, but catastrophes and disasters more generically.

He tweaks Democrats for wanting, he says, to raise taxes 20 to 30 percent (he doesn't say where he gets that figure).

"I would reduce your taxes and I would reduce your taxes as much as I could possibly get away with strategically. As much as I could get Congress to do," he says. The Democrats, he says, want to raise taxes on capital gains and dividends, and claim that such increases will only affect rich people.

"Like 'Heck, it's rich people!' That will affect your retirement accounts big time," he says. "Gosh, they really don't understand how a private economy works. I do."

The most animated moment comes when someone in the audience accuses Giuliani of supporting the idea that the West and Islam are engaged in a "clash of civilizations." Giuliani rejects the assertion:

"This is not -- and it is not a clash of civilizations -- I've never said it was a clash of civilizations. I don't consider the Islamic terrorists to be representing a civilization. I consider the Islamic terrorists to be representing a distortion of a religion."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 14, 2008; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  Joel's Florida Diary , Rudy Giuliani  
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Next: Shouting For Votes at Mel's Diner


Romney is doing fine and will stay in the race regardless of Michigan. People keep forgetting that he did win Wyoming and that Wyoming receives more delegates than New Hampshire. He won more delegates in Wyoming than McCain did in New Hampshire. Let's not forget about Nevada either. The west is a large voting block and Romney should do very well in all of the west. McCain will have a hard time beating Romney in McCain's home state of Arizona. Romney is the man to fix Michigan's economy and to keep this country competitive internationally.

Posted by: poliscistudent | January 15, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Your article is a disgrace to Rudy!!! Filled with bias and your own sarcastic opinions. Just give us the facts. None of the sideshow. Just report. The way people did in the old days. I am so tired of the media inserting their own opinions into stories.

It is obvious from this story that you don't personally think Rudy has a chance. Next time, just shut up and report.

Posted by: nikhil281 | January 14, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

"wearing a dark suit, shirt with starched collar, red tie"

I always marvel at his fashion skills, especially in his uncanny knowledge of when to leave the dress and wig behind.

Posted by: gentletrader | January 14, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Posted by: katman13 | January 14, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Guilliani is fini both with majority of repubs and definitely does not appeal to the dems.. he had anemic approvals ratings on 9/10 in NYC ..he is the worst nightmare of the repubs because he is soooo beatable ! he doesnt mesh with their values, does not appeal to their base and has sooo much baggage with his 3 wives, his sleezy judy affair ,bernie kerik's woes and his poor performances in the debates,,,plus his perpetual phony giggle when he cant answer a question on a show or debate stage... quite the loser rudy .. enjoy florida.. u will be retiring there soon enough !

Posted by: delgirl27 | January 14, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Top 10 Presidential Candidates
(Coaches, AP, and Computer Composite)

1) Barack Obama (D) - despite set back in NH, still holding strong and gaining momemtum in National polls.
2) Hillary Clinton (D) - great showing in NH, brings Hillary back from the number 5 spot.
3) John McCain (R) - NH propels McCain into the lead of Republican campaign after a weak showing in Iowa.
4) Mike Huckabee (R) - falls in the rankings due to third place showing in NH. SC could determine if he remains in the run for the post.
5) Mitt Romney (R) - needs a win badly in Michigan and a decent showing in SC to keep hopes alive.
6) John Edwards (D) - after second place showing in Iowa, polls show Edwards falling a distant third place to the two leadin D candidates.
7) Ruby Giuliani (R) - time is running out on Rudy's run. To be fair, he has staked his claim on winning the big states on February 6th.
8) Fred Thompson (R) - Maybe too little to late? SC will be Fred's last stand. Only a first or second place showing will keep this campaign alive.
9) Ron Paul (R) - Has enough money to keep campaign going and hopes the message catches on. Chances are really low.
10) Duncan Hunter (R) - Proclaimed that he will continue campaign despite poor showings. Has one delegate which is more than others running.


Others receiving votes: Michael Bloomberg, Usama Bin Laden, Jeb Bush, Bill OReilly

Posted by: comingawakening | January 14, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it clear we're tired of Giuliani? Republicans are looking for, if not a more dovish, than a more reasonable foreign policy, hence McCain's ascent, and they're still searching for someone with economic answers, but Giuliani's deficit spending is not the solution. Instead of spending time on Rudy's wallowing campaign the Post should be spending more time critiquing the economic proposals by candidates who can get more votes than Ron Paul.

Posted by: csen | January 14, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Guiliani ain't getting nominated OR elected anyway, so let him have his fun in Florida because it's the end of the road for Guiliani.

Posted by: lindalovejones | January 14, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Joel As one of the Democratic minority in Ft. Myers, I want to let you know that early voting for the primary started today. No big crowds, but a steady turnout at Lee County Board of Elections. Only a few miles from Rudy's event at Shell Point, the place where well-heeled, elderly Republicans dominate.

Posted by: rdklingus | January 14, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Given all the snow Hillary and Obama trudged through the past month or so, maybe Rudy's got something here . . .

Posted by: JakeD | January 14, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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