Gi­u­liani seen scor­ing points on New Hamp­shire tour

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

ER­ROL, N.H. — “Rudy Here To­mor­row at 2:30!” a sign an­nounced on the front door of the North­ern Ex­po­sure Restau­rant in this 310-per­son town. The word “to­mor­row” was crossed out, and writ­ten over it was the word “to­day.”

Ev­ery­where for­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani went on an eight-hour blitz up and down the north­ern neck of New Hamp­shire on Nov. 2, his rep­u­ta­tion — and fame from those Septem­ber days more than six years ago — pre­ceded him. Ev­ery­where he went on his hun­dred-mile trip along the An­droscog­gin River, peo­ple came from miles around just to get a glimpse of the man they sim­ply call “Rudy.”

“I like what Rudy did on 9/11,” Bernie Ross, 67, said shortly be­fore the mayor ar­rived at the diner, deep in the Repub­li­can-strong­hold snow­mo­bile coun­try. The walls were stocked with the heads of deer bucks, and the pa­trons — most in sweat­shirts and sev­eral wear­ing Bos­ton Red Sox hats — also called the Repub­li­can front-run­ner for pres­i­dent “Rudy.”

“I’m taken to­ward Rudy,” said Gail Fisher, who came from nearby Canaan, Vt. “What he did on 9/11 was fab­u­lous. And he’s pretty much an hon­est man.” Pretty much? “That’s pretty good for a politi­cian,” she said with a laugh.

“I think Rudy’s the one guy who can give Hil­lary a run for her money,” said her hus­band, Ray Dubreil, re­fer­ring to Demo­cratic front-run­ner, Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

De­spite re­ports that his cam­paign was pre­pared to aban­don this state’s first-in-the-na­tion pri­mary, as well as Iowa’s Jan. 3 cau­cuses, and do bat­tle in later pri­mary states, Mr. Gi­u­liani has spent the past few weeks in ev­ery nook and cranny of the Gran­ite State.

Stop No. 1

With a tiny en­tourage — a cam­paign staffer or two, plus a cou­ple of body­guards (for­mer NYPD of­fi­cers) — Mr. Gi­u­liani’s sil­ver Cadil­lac wound its way along moun­tain­ous Route 16 from the Ber­lin air­port to the one-stop­light town of Er­rol, about 25 miles from the Cana­dian border.

Inside the diner, he looked out of place — an ex­pen­sive pin­striped blue suit, red tie, black shoes and om­nipresent U.S. flag pin. He worked the room hard, shak­ing ev­ery­one’s hands and even­tu­ally sit­ting down with a table­ful of chil­dren to sign au­to­graphs and talk about their Hal­loween cos­tumes.

“You know I’m run­ning for pres­i­dent of the United States, right?” he said with a sly smile. “It’s pretty ex­cit­ing. Some­times when I say that I sort of pinch my­self and say, ‘I am?’ But the re­al­ity is that this is a very im­por­tant elec­tion and you are the first pri­mary in the coun­try and I would very much like to have your sup­port.”

Mr. Ross, who la­bels him­self a “Rea­gan Repub­li­can,” lobbed a soft­ball ques­tion at the mayor about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give il­le­gal aliens driver’s li­censes — a ques­tion that tonguetied Mrs. Clin­ton a few days be­fore and led to ac­cu­sa­tions of waf­fling for the for­mer first lady.

“I’m go­ing to give you my an­swer real quick: I’m against it. Hil­lary was against it, then for it, then par­tially against it, then par­tially for it, all in the same an­swer, within one minute.” Just then a phone in the diner rings. “Maybe she’s call­ing right now to change her po­si­tion again,” the mayor says with his trade­mark grin. “I re­mem­ber last time John Kerry was ac­cused of be­ing a flip-flop­per — she makes him look like an ama­teur,” he adds to much laugh­ter.

Stop No. 2

Dixville Notch, an idyllic re­treat in the White Moun­tains, touts it­self as “first in the na­tion” be­cause the tiny town of just more than two dozen reg­is­tered vot­ers opens its polls at 12:01 a.m. on Elec­tion Day. In 2004, Pres­i­dent Bush de­feated John Kerry 19-7, with vot­ers lin­ing up inside the lux­ury Bal­sams Grand Re­sort Ho­tel, built in 1866.

The town of 31 does the same ex­er­cise on pri­mary day, which is ex­pected to be Jan. 8. But for the mayor’s visit, there were more than 100 peo­ple in the John Dix So­cial Room over­look­ing a lake and val­ley. They were a dif­fer­ent class of vot­ers from that at the North­ern Ex­po­sure, and they milled about smartly, some in suits and ties, oth­ers with jack­ets, the women in dresses.

Stand­ing in front of a roar­ing fire, Mr. Gi­u­liani said his qual­i­fi­ca­tions are not lim­ited to Septem­ber 11.

“I’m talk­ing about all the sit­u­a­tions we faced in the city of New York, the bud­get cri­sis, the crime cri­sis, the cri­sis of con­fi­dence we had in the city. [. . .] That’s pretty good train­ing for be­ing pres­i­dent of the United States.”

While Mr. Gi­u­liani seemed un­pre­pared for the ques­tions on rural is­sues, he was firm on one of the sub­jects that has most alien­ated con­ser­va­tive vot­ers: his pro-choice stance on abor­tion.

“We’d be bet­ter off with­out abor­tion,” he said to a ques­tion from a wo­man who would iden­tify her­self only as Ca­role. “But ul­ti­mately, I think that’s a choice I have to leave to the per­son to make, in their own con­science.”

Ca­role’s soft sup­port of Mr. Giu- liani ended at that mo­ment.

“I don’t think I can sup­port him now. I was un­de­cided, but now I know,” she said.

But he kept an­other fe­male fan — So­phie, who said: “He was cool. I still like Hil­lary but I’ve turned on to Rudy.”

Stop No. 3

The mayor was lucky to get top billing at the Town & Coun­try Mo­tor Inn. The sign out front said: “Wel­come Mayor Rudy and Elvis.” Elvis was in the house: Ray Guillemette Jr., an im­per­son­ator of Amer­ica’s great­est rock icon, was per­form­ing in the Inn’s spa­cious din­ing room.

Mr. Gi­u­liani did his stump speech again, slam­ming the Democrats pro­cliv­ity to tax: “They de­fine rich as any­one who pays taxes.” He honed his crit­i­cism of Mrs. Clin­ton when asked again about the il­le­gal alien li­censes in New York. To howls of laugh­ter, he said, play­ing the role of Mrs. Clin­ton, “I’m for it; I’m against it — I’m for it and against it, and I want to be your pres­i­dent.”

“Give me a break. If you think a ques­tion about driver’s li­censes is a tough ques­tion, a gotcha ques­tion, you’re not ready for [Mah­moud] Ah­madine­jad,” he said, re­fer­ring to the pres­i­dent of Iran, who is re­port­edly seek­ing nu­clear weapons and call­ing for the de­struc­tion of Is­rael, a U.S. ally.

While some of the 100 or so who heard the speech flocked around Mr. Gi­u­liani, seek­ing pho­tos and au­to­graphs, oth­ers headed to the Mo­tor Inn’s din­ing room to catch “Elvis.”

At one point in the show, one of the men in the mostly el­derly crowd knocked over a small bush by a win­dow. “Care­ful there,” the fake Elvis said. “I don’t like Bush, ei­ther. Hey, where’s Rudy Gi­u­liani? Where’s Rudy Gi­u­liani?”

The mayor al­ready had headed off to his last event of the day, a mee­tand-greet in nearby Ber­lin at the North­land Restau­rant and Dairy Bar. But he had made an­other fan in Gorham.

“I’m not po­lit­i­cal, but I like Rudy,” “Elvis” said in his ho­tel room in be­tween sets. “I re­ally do.” He even of­fered an au­to­graphed card for the mayor, in­scrib­ing it: “Rudy, Get ’er done! Good luck. Elvis.”

Joseph Curl / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani em­barked on an eight-hour tour of north­ern New Hamp­shire on Nov. 2, where he was greeted warmly by would-be vot­ers.

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