Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Dreams Of A Frenchman In the Sky

AMES -- Rudy Giuliani is dreaming.

No, really.

That's what he told an audience of about 400 at Iowa State University's Memorial Union in Ames Thursday afternoon.

In fact, Giuliani joked, he's had the same dream over and over. In it, the former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate's kindred political spirit, Nicholas Sarkozy, a Frenchman no less, is flying over the ocean toward the United States when his plane passes by an American jetliner bound for Paris. In Giuliani's dream, Sarkozy, the U.S.-friendly French conservative president, is close enough to see three passengers in the American plane: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

In an often theatrical speech, full of hand gestures and popping with mocking remarks about Democrats, Giuliani completed his dream sequence story with the observation that Sarkozy wants to make his nation more like America while the three leading Democratic presidential candidates want the United States to more resemble France.

"You do not want the United States being on the left of France," Giuliani said.

A day after getting the endorsement of Christian conservative televangelist Pat Robertson, Giuliani showed that's he's following the advice, or at least the rationale, of another prominent GOP figure, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in seeing a potential political role model in Sarkozy -- who scored an upset win in France over a liberal female candidate. Hoping to see that movie sub-titled here with his New York tailored self in the leading man's role, Giuliani referenced Sarkozy several times.

"He wants to get the French to work more than 35 hours a week," Giuliani said of Sarkozy.

Here is The New York Times Editorial Board on Gingrich's Sarkozy theory:

The way a Republican could win, he said, is by running a fresh-ideas campaign along the lines of the recent win by French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy. Mr. Gingrich argued that Mr. Sarkozy should have lost to Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, but he did a brilliant job of running against the unpopular conservative government of which he himself had been a part.

In his remarks in Ames, Giuliani not only referenced Hillary Clinton, but blamed her husband for what Giuliani said is a weakening of the U.S. military. He said President Clinton's "peace dividend" was "happy talk."

"Happy talk by leaders is very dangerous," Giuliani said, adding that he would substantially increase military spending.

"Our military's too small," Giuliani added. "It really is too small to deter would-be aggressors."

The Republican candidate started his speech and question-and-answer session on terrorism.

"I believe this country has to be on offense to deal with Islamic terrorism," Giuliani said. "We are safer when we are on offense."

Giuliani spent the bulk of his speech on economic matters, telling the Ames audience he would cut the non-military/intelligence federal workforce by 42 percent over eight years by not replacing 50 percent of the people expected to resign or retire during that time frame. He also called for lower corporate tax rates and low capital gains and dividend taxes.

He quipped that Democrats have a broad defintion of the wealthy when it comes to taxes.

"Here's what they mean by rich: everyone paying taxes," Giuliani said.

In answering about a half-dozen audience questions Giuliani spent the most time on one about China. While citing China as a reason to bolster the U.S. military, Giuliani also sees the Asian giant as a trading partner with buying eyes.

"We should be thinking about what we can sell to China, not worrying so much about what we can buy," Giuliani said.

Specifically, Giuliani said American green technology could be exported to energy hungry China to help turn the trade tables in the United States' favor.

"China needs energy diversity more than we do," Giuliani said.

Former Story County (Ames) Republican Party Chairman Norman Rudi, a Glidden native and retired architect who has written popular books on World War II veterans from Iowa, says he's a solid Giuliani supporter.

"He is very strong and I like him because he talks about principle," Rudi said. "He's got a very strong message on terrorism which I think is probably the thing Americans take for granted. We don't realize there is as much terrorism that could be applied to us as we think."

Rudi said Giuliani's mission in Iowa is not necessarily to win the caucuses but to have a strong showing.

"I don't think he has to win Iowa," Rudi said. "I think he has to have a strong showing. George H.W. Bush did not carry Iowa (the caucuses in 1988)."

Giuliani's Iowa caucuses coordinator Russ Cross of Ames agrees that his candidate doesn't need the No. 1 spot on Jan. 3 in Iowa.

"A strong showing is possible in Iowa and would certainly strengthen his efforts in other states," Cross said. "The challenge for Iowa is, and for all of these candidates, is with other states moving up their primaries, suddenly you have to spend a lot of time and effort earlier on in other states other than you originally had to do."

Cross, vice president for regulatory affairs with Walls Fargo Financial, says Giuliani does have a campaign style that works in Iowa, and handles one-on-one exchanges, the coin of the realm here, is smooth fasion.

"Just like today, he's an interactive, spontaneous kind of person who not only wants to share his thoughts about where the country should go but he wants to hear from folks," Cross said.

This story is crossposted at Iowa

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