Guiliani stumps in Bradenton

01/14/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani is holding a Town Hall meeting in Clearwater at this hour. Later, he’ll make an appearance in Lakeland.

It’s one of six campaign stops Guiliani is making in the Sunshine state, part of a 700-mile bus tour that will end tomorrow in Florida.

On Saturday, Guiliani made two appearances on the Gulf Coast. The first was late Saturday afternoon in Bradenton, where an overflow crowd of over 500 people packed into the Senior Enrichment Center.

Guiliani used a hankerchief to frequently dry himself in the hot ballroom. He appeared on stage approximately 15 minutes later than the scheduled starting time.

Although new surveys indicate that the struggling U.S. economy has now superceded all other issues, including Iraq, as the most important one for voters, Guiliani, didn’t spend that much time discussing it, other than mentioning his tax cutting plans, where he says he will deliver the biggest cut in U.S. history.

Instead, Guiliani repeatedly brought much of his discussion, and his subsequent question and answer session, back to Sept. 11, 2001, when New York City was attacked.

Guiliani then took several minutes to discuss why he was tested and ready now to lead.

Local attorney and independent voter John Lakin wasn’t satisfied. Lakin said Guiliani did not respond to the part of his question on how he would bridge the partisan divide. Lakin also said Guiliani was over the top when discussing tort reform.

Nancy Hill’s son Christopher served in Iraq, and will soon be deployed to Afghanistan. Her voice quivering, she asked Guiliani his thoughts on U.S. involvement there.

A middle aged woman from New York asked Guiliani if he believed that public service of some sort should be mandatory. He said no, and said it was a good thing that there was not a military draft attached to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his stump speech, which lasted less than 15 minutes, Guiliani played with one of the defining words of the 2008 election - change. He said some change could be good, but said it depended on who was calling for that. He then used health care as an example of where change would be bad.

Also at his appearance in Bradenton, Guiliani again said that he supports some type of federal backstop to spread insurance risks associated with hurricanes and natural disasters.

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