More on “Rudy” in Des Moines

Just a few other random thoughts and observations on Rudy Giuliani’s visit to Des Moines today.  (See previous post for more detailed info on his speech & the Q&A with reporters afterward.)

It’s "Hillary" on most of Senator Clinton’s campaign signs.  And it was "Rudy" today on the huge sign which hung on the north end of a Des Moines hotel ballroom in preparation for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s speech.  As I was talking on the phone with one likely Iowa Caucus-goer recently, she asked me why the candidates are using their first names.  "It’s not very presidential," is that voter’s opinion.

Giuliani was nearly an hour late starting and then talked for 47 minutes. A few people in the crowd who were taking a "long coffee break" to attend the event left — before Giuliani started.

Giuliani was ever-so-briefly introduced by State Senator Jeff Angelo, a Republican from Creston who is a Giuliani backer.  Former Secretary of State Paul Pate and former State Senator Maggie Tinsman were in the room, too.  Both are considered "moderate" Republicans and both are backing RG. 

Don’t know if he checked with Trent Lott, but Giuliani did a couple of interviews with Iowa "talk radio" programs yesterday.  Giuliani was calling into WHO‘s Mickelson in the Morning & talked with KSCJ’s Randy Renshaw from Texas.  Today, Giuliani sat down with Charlotte Eby of Lee Newspapers for a one-on-one interview.  (If you didn’t get the Trent Lott reference, Lott recently said, in the context of the immigration reform battle: "Talk radio is running America.  We have to deal with that problem.")

Giuliani’s speaking style in the Des Moines hotel ballroom setting mid-day Wednesday was a bit low-key. Maybe after all those high-dollar speeches to thousands of people in arenas and stadiums transformed into cathedrals of capitalism by crowds eager to figure out a new way to make a buck, a small crowd in a hotel ballroom doesn’t get your speechmaking juices going. He is almost professorial and I noticed several typical "applause lines" in his remarks which didn’t get any applause.  ("We have to end the culture of spending in Washington, D.C. and I can do that," Giuliani said, then he paused ever so slightly.  No applause.)

There was a huge screen at the front of the room, to Giuliani’s right, which he started using in a power-point presentation 22 minutes into his speech.  The first screen was a bar chart.  "This is a chart which is hard to read — cause I can’t read it — but I know it because I have it memorized," Giuliani told the crowd.  A few moments later, folks in the front row helped Giuliani read some of the small print at the bottom of  the screen.

Giuliani’s critique of the failures of congress — when Republicans were in control and now when Democrats are in control — did not extend to President Bush.  His only direct mention of the president came when he talked of the need for a line item veto, and he said Bush, because the president does NOT have line item veto authority today, had been boxed in by the Iraq spending bill which contained "earmarks" for government spending on questionable projects and had no choice but to sign the bill.

The Q&A with reporters after the speech was staged in a small reception room in the hotel.  Without too much explanation about the room’s set up — there was no place to stack the microphones, it wound up being a true cluster of people and equipment around Giuliani when he walked into the room.  Two reporters were on their knees directly in front of Giuliani, holding their tape recorders up to catch his words.  I was right behind them, doing a small lunge, holding out my microphone in one hand and leaning over at the waist, sideways, so as not to get in KCCI’s camera angle.  (This has been demonstrated as a new, uncomfortable yoga position — hold it for 9 minutes and you’ll find out how uncomfortable it was.) The pregnant reporter who works at the statehouse was kneeling on the floor by Giuliani’s right side, holding her microphone in the air — "an outrage" according to another reporter on site who demanded that I put that in the blog.  There you are.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.