Rudy Giuliani came to Cape May County today, and the gaggle of reporters, cameramen and local politicians followed. Rudy stopped at Dino's Diner in Seaville to meet and greet customers, sign autographs and pose for photos. Television cameras and reporters mingled with local officials outside the diner when the black Cadillac Escalade with New York plates pulled up and Giuliani got out, smiling and immediately started shaking hands.
Patrons in the diner immediately burst into applause when Giuliani entered. He worked the room, moving from booth to booth, shaking hands, posing for pictures and talking to customers. He sat down with the Upper Township Committee and gabbed about baseball (the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees specifically) before turning his attention to politics and the battle of New Jersey. The GOP has to capture the Garden State, he said, in order to win the presidency.
Just think: my state could be as vital as Florida was in 2000. How depressing!
My editor and I walked away not with a sense of awe at his raw charisma, but at his "down to earthiness" and ability to communicate to the common man. Here's this flashy New Yorker in a pinstripe suit sitting at the table across from you talking baseball. It was refreshing seeing a politician who wasn't plastic and phony.
Critics claim Giuliani was a monster as mayor, a tyrant and dictator, the Mussolini of Manhattan. Before 9-11, his critics claimed his efforts in cleaning up the city were superficial. Critics also charge Giuliani for profiting from 9-11, collecting an exorbitant amount of money in speaking fees. I chalk the last point up to this: Italian, from New York, just wants to "wet the beak" and collect a little slice of what's rightfully his.
Whether people expect he'll be Superman during the next terrorist attack, rip off his pinstripe suit and be wearing a blue skintight suit with a giant red "R" emblazoned across the chest might be wishful thinking. People are buying into the myth Rudy is the one man who'll keep the bad terrorists from our shores. Personally, I don't think one man can fight terrorists. It's a collective effort, and if the right security agencies and enforcement agencies and military aren't communicating, fighting terrorism will be as effective as stopping a tank with a peashooter.
One other thing: I got his autograph. He signed a bit of campaign literature, 12 "commitments" he's making to voters: keep America on offense in the Terrorist's War on Us, end illegal immigration, restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending, cut taxes and reforming the tax code, reforming the legal system and other boilerplate promises. Here's the thing: he signed the bottom of the brochure, underneath the 12 "commitments". I'll treat this as a contract, and hold him to it.