Guiliani speaks in Tampa

12/17/07 Mitch E. Perry
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With the first presidential caucuses and primaries less than three weeks away, Rudy Guiliani’s stature as the front runner for the Republican nomination is starting to slip.

Mike Huckabee continues to make dramatic gains in the polls; some of his support is coming at the expense of the former New York City mayor.

Trying to right his ship in his so-called "firewall" state, Guiliani spoke at the Tampa Convention Center Saturday morning. He touched on education, calling school choice the civil rights issue of this era.

Much of Guiliani’s appeal comes from his perceived toughness in the war on terrorism. But a key portion of Saturday’s speech dealt with the United States' frayed reputation overseas, particularly in the Middle East. Without mentioning the Bush administration by name, Guiliani said the U.S. should be known not for its militarism, but for its salesmanship.

He said the U.S. needs to win the war on ideas, and ideals. He said the U.S. should have more contact with those in the Middle East, not less.

In the past few weeks, Guiliani has seen his poll numbers go down, dogged by accusations that as mayor he hid city-funded security expenses for his mistress and the indictment of his former police commissioner on corruption and tax fraud charges.

The theme of his address was American can-do spirit, and there was very little partisan sniping, except when it came to discussing health care.

Ronald Reagan is the patron saint of the Republican party. Guilini invoked his name several times, quoting him on the Cold War, saying the U.S. would win the war on terror.

In keeping with the optimistic nature of his address, Guiliani barely referenced one of the GOP’s favorite issues of the season – illegal immigration.

Guilani received more public criticism today, this time in a guest editorial in the New York Times.

John S. Martin Jr. served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York immediately before Guiliani took control of that office. He took exception with Guiliani’s recent comments that he "turned around the U.S. attorney's office.” Martin wrote that it was untrue.

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