Even as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani toured Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and New Hampshire — talking tough on taxes and terrorism and making stops at a NASCAR race and country stores, it is a fire fight that was drawing attention this week.
The former mayor continued to beat back attacks from the International Association of Fire Fighters, who have questioned his touted leadership in a time of crisis, saying he did not follow through on promises made after the 1993 World Trade Center bombings or Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The organization launched a Web site ‘Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend’ on Wednesday with the release of a 13-minute video that tracked the mayor’s actions after both attacks on the city, and called into question his image as “America’s Mayor”.
The last week saw a series of setbacks for the Giuliani campaign. On Saturday, bad news came when his New York City campaign manager John D’Amato died of a heart attack while jogging, according to NY1 News.
Then, Giuliani’s southern campaign chairman Sen. David Vitter, R-La., issued a statement apologizing for his number appearing on the client list of alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Giuliani said Tuesday a decision had not been made on whether Vitter would remain in the campaign, according to The New York Times.
In Savannah, Ga., meanwhile, Giuliani said he would maintain President Bush’s tax cuts. “I even think we should improve them because I have a very, very strong, not just belief, but I have had experience doing that,” citing his record of cutting taxes while mayor. He continued the message in Jacksonville, Fla., making a point to differentiate himself from the Democratic candidates who said they would repeal the cuts.
In Daytona Beach, Fla. the mayor was welcomed at his first NASCAR race. He told reporters there that he had just finished reading “The Female Fan Guide to Motorsports,” given to him by the author at one of his fund-raising events, according to the New York Times.
Giuliani made his seventh trip to New Hampshire on Tuesday, holding a town hall in Concord at the New Hampshire Technical Institute, then visiting Robie’s Country Store in Hooksett, N.H., a traditional stopover on the presidential campaign trail, to eat a chili lunch with supporters. In the evening, he held another town hall meeting in Nashua where terrorism was again the focus of his speech.
“The way to deal with them is to be on offense, to be strong,” Giuliani said.
During the New Hampshire visit, Giuliani gave his take on health care, explaining that health insurance should be left up to the market like car insurance but that he would provide tax incentives to help people afford it, according to the Concord Monitor He went on to call universal health care — a proposal by several Democratic candidates — as impractical.
In Concord, Giuliani responded to the news that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., lost his top two campaign strategists: “John McCain is a fighter. I expect John to be right there and waging a really tough campaign.”