By Bill Bradley, exclusive to PJ Media
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani turned in an impressive performance in his luncheon keynote address today at the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento. There in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency at Capitol Park, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state capital residence, as it happens, Giuliani received a much more rousing response than did Schwarzenegger last night at the convention’s opening banquet. Giuliani’s nearly 50-minute address was interrupted several times by standing ovations.
Giuliani did not formally declare his candidacy for president, a prevalent rumor beforehand, but made it obvious that he has every intention of running. In fact, he is on a campaign swing though the Golden State that began last night with a fundraiser and private meetings and continues through Tuesday.
As a speaker, Giuliani is in transition from the high-dollar motivational speaker he became after his heroics on and after 9/11 and a full-throttle candidate for the presidency. His speech isn’t a stump speech yet, and is far too long for one — though the crowd of California convention delegates certainly didn’t mind — but it is clear that he has the makings of powerful themes. And that he is a very good performer behind the microphone.
While he dealt with a number of issues, including education reform, welfare reform, tax reform, and the need to extend health care coverage, and did not not dwell on his moderate to liberal views on social issues, he made it clear that he sees the war on terror as the overarching issue of the election and of America’s future.
Giuliani said it is key to stabilize the situation in Iraq lest the strife-torn nation become a future haven for terrorists. He urged patience for the Bush administration’s new “surge” strategy and ridiculed weeks spent on fine-tuning non-binding resolutions against the move as completely unproductive.
Giuliani likened the war on terror to the Cold War as a long-term struggle requiring resolve and judgment and a more effective job of selling the idea of America to the world. In doing all that, he invoked the legacy of Ronald Reagan. Which is never a bad thing with the mostly very conservative delegates to this convention.