As Rudy Giuliani slowly made his way past the media crush to the entrance of the Redwood Inn in Bridgewater, a reporter asked him if he had seen the Quinnipiac poll released today that had him running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in New Jersey.
“You know what I look at? The one that has me ahead by about 35 percent in the Republican primary,” said Giuliani. “I think that all the polls in Democratic states demonstrate one thing very clearly: that I’m the most competitive Republican candidate. I’m the only Republican candidate that can win in all 50 states.”
Giuliani made a brief stop over at a $75-a-head fundraiser in Bridgewater to say thank you to the Somerset County Republican Organization, who, in January, became the first county organization in the state to throw their support behind him. Afterwards, he was off to raise money for himself at a private house party simulcast across the country.
After a brief introduction by Somerset Republican Chairman Dale Florio, Giuliani launched into a 13 minute speech touching on terrorism, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to New York, and criticizing Hillary Clinton’s universal health care proposal.
And there was, of course, that overarching theme – that Giuliani is the first Republican presidential candidate to have a good shot at winning New Jersey since George H. W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis here in 1988.
“I think that your support and the overwhelming support that we received in New Jersey really did help me make the decision that not only could we run, but we could win,” said Giuliani, who echoed Hillary Clinton’s remarks last year in saying he appreciated the state moving up its presidential primary.
New Jerseyans, Giuliani said, were painfully aware of the threat of Islamic terrorism – not just from 9/11, but from the recent arrest of the six alleged Fort Dix attack plotters.
“Look at the Islamic terrorists that the U.S. Attorney here in New Jersey arrested a few months ago who were going to attack Fort Dix,” said Giuliani. “So nobody’s exaggerated this, nobody’s making it up.”
Although the event was a fundraiser for local Republican candidates, Giuliani made only a brief reference to the 2007 races.
“You have an election in November. Pay a lot of attention to it,” said Giuliani. “Make sure we elect Republicans… the success you have this November is going to help us next November.”
Among the crowd of 200 or so, most of who had nothing but glowing words for Giuliani, was 69-year-old Renee Kuker, a retired writer from Bridgewater and self-described student of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Kuker was torn about “America’s Mayor” and wanted a word with him. Holding a copy of The Objectivist with a cover story about Giuliani’s prosecution of “Junk Bond King” Michael Milken, she said she wasn’t sure she could trust someone who “persecuted businessmen” as a U.S. Attorney. But, she said, none of the other Republican candidates had the traction to take on Hillary Clinton and win.
“I’ll do anything to stop Hillary, but I’m not sure about him.” said Kuker.