Rudy Rising: Giuliani on the campaign trail in California
Speaking at a fund raiser in Brentwood last night, Rudy Giuliani defined his terms, "I don't call it 'The War on Terror,' I call it 'The Terrorists War Against Us.' "
That line forms the center of Rudy Giuliani's evolving stump speech. The crowd who had gathered to hear and take the measure of the man reacted with an unrestrained applause had the rowdy feel of a Fourth of July celebration at a Brooklyn fire station.
But we were a continent away from Brooklyn. Last night's locale for "America's Mayor" was the elegant marble foyer of Ambassador and Mrs. Rockwell Schnabel's Brentwood estate.
Organized by a cross-section of the Los Angeles and southern California business, media, and entertainment community such as Bill Simon and John Liebman, the private fundraiser we attended attracted over 200 people interested in meeting this man who would be President; a man with a broad appeal that extends beyond his party. In introducing Giuliani Ambassador Schnabel cast him as "John Wayne with a soul, a heart, and a conviction...." It was a sentiment that resonated with the assembled. And Giuliani did not disappoint them.
Giuliani began his talk by looking at next year's "front-loaded" primary season "We're just getting started on this campaign, but the decisions are less than a year away. By February 5 next year we'll probably have a Democratic and Republican candidate."
On Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate Giuliani believes he will face in the 2008 general election. "I became a Yankee fan growing up in New York, she became a Yankee fan growing up in Chicago."
The Mayor laughed and the crowd laughed. The crowd continued to laugh.
Getting to the point of the quip, Giuliani said, "What the people of America really want is problem solving." He identified himself as "a problem solver. I try to achieve a solution," and noted how he cut taxes in New York City when many doubted it could ever be done.
Problems are challenges to Giuliani and offered some insight into how he analyzes those challenges today.
"You must govern in America now from a sense of perspective," Giuliani said. "The president of the United States needs a sense of perspective. The perspective you need is that this is a very very strong country. We're not in terrible, terrible trouble. Gosh, if we're in terrible trouble the world is gone.
"But we are not a country moving in the wrong direction or sliding down hill. The truth is we are the strongest country on earth, the strongest military power without a rival, the strongest economy on earth. The strongest democracy on earth. You have more freedom than anyone has ever had. No one has ever had more freedom than Americans. This is the greatest country in the world and the greatest country the world has ever known. We must be proud of that. We must solve our problems based on our understanding strengths, not our weaknesses."
Giuliani says that intelligent reform, particularly in health care begins by recognizing America's successes.
"Health care is getting more expensive, people don't have enough access to health care," he acknowledged. "But then you gotta step back and say we're just human beings. We're not perfect, but we solve problems, try to do it better.
"Where would you go for health care, the US or someplace else?" Where do you go for cancer surgery? MD Anderson in Houston, Texas? People are asking to get into a hospital in the US, Houston, New York, LA. They never call and say 'check me into a hospital in England,' or 'I want to go to get my prostate cancer taken care of in Italy, just to pick on my ancestors.' "
Giuliani noted that when people choose hospitals for health care they choose American hospitals because American medicine is innovative and reliable. "You have to solve the (health care) problem by providing a significant number of choices (for individuals)," Giuliani concluded, not through a government-mandated program.
Security is clearly Giuliani's strong suit, both as a crime fighter and as "America's Mayor," the leader who brought New York through the crisis of 9/11.
"We must get it done right in Iraq," Giuliani said.
The crowd once again erupted in applause. Applause that continued, far from Brooklyn and long into the California night.
Austin Bay is an author and syndicated columnist. His online writings can be found at HERE.