Is Florida Giuliani Country?
Photo/Text By Renee Burrell
Rudy Giuliani (standing far left) drew laughter and applause from supporters Monday when he told them, "You can vote today, tomorrow, and the next day. And the day after, but, of course, only one time. This is Florida after all . . . we don't want any problems!" Giuliani was introduced by his campaign advisor, Steve Forbes, (standing 5th from left) CEO of Forbes and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine, who himself campaigned for the presidency in 1996 and 2000.
PINELLAS COUNTY - Rudy Giuliani's bus tour stopped in Clearwater Monday evening for a town hall meeting at Tucson's Southwest Grill, 13563 Icot. The restaurant is the Pinellas County GOP's regular meeting location.
About 200 people were allowed in with many more being turned away per the fire marshal's orders. Much of the talk before Giuliani's arrival centered on the pessimistic national buzz that Giuliani might not be a shoo-in here like he thought.
Political analysts have been predicting that Giuliani may have miscalculated by planning to campaign heavily in Florida and not nearly enough for Iowa's, New Hampshire's and Michigan's primaries--something one of his campaign managers asked the crowd to disavow.
A Giuliani campaign ad reads, "With pundits and politicos handicapping the campaign like the Super Bowl, it's easy to lose sight of what's at stake. An economy in peril. A country at war. A future uncertain. The media loves process. Talking heads love chatter. But Florida has a chance to turn down the noise. And show the world that leadership is what really matters."
Judging from the number of people who flocked to Tucson's to see him and the patience shown by those who did get in and waited two hours longer than expected, it appears that America's mayor may still be a Republican favorite in mid-Pinellas.
Owner/Operator of Tucson's Southwest Grill, and past president of The Federal Labor Relations Authority David Earp, said Tuesday he didn't think polls showing Giuliani's popularity waning are accurate. "I think that the polling has gotten less accurate in recent years. Our society is much more mobile with non-traditional communications being the norm. A large percentage of the public is just not being heard fromů We need to only look at the opening primaries and see how accurate the polls are. He has a solid base here in Florida and is in very good position to carry the state."
Earp, who is related to Wyatt Earp, (his great-grandfather's second cousin), spoke of his concern over the election and the part small business plays in Florida economics, "Our current business environment is pretty tough right now with energy costs, commodity prices, taxes, insurance being so high for all businesses, but especially for small business as a percentage of revenue. We are the engine of our economy locally and it was great to hear Mayor Giuliani's economic plan and the importance of this issue to his platform---his commitment is strongly worded "My Twelve Commitments".
He added, "We must continue to be very supportive of our business community small and large, as well as our community in general. Tucson's is a great example of a small local business bringing a quality product to market. We do everything in-house, cut steaks, make sauces and cook over a split oak. This provides jobs, salaries, and tax revenue which are the engine of our economy both public and private. Most businesses, in this current environment, are having a tough time. When a small business closes, the impact is much larger than losing your favorite retail outlet or restaurant. We need to put a lot of sensitivity to any platform that will burden the business community with additional taxes or operational costs. An example of this (in my opinion) would be mandated Health-care which is a terrible burden to business, especially small businesses. Now is not the time to look at additional tax burdens for our citizens or on business."
Earp commented on the former New York City mayor's strong and weak points. "There are many things I like about his platform, the economy both national and international, taxes, defense, a tax credit based free-market health-care. He also has great public charisma. I think of it as listening to your favorite recorded music, and then going to hear it in concert....It just brings it to a new level. If you are a traditional conservative, there might be some well publicized sticking points, but I really think that if the economy, security and defense are top-tier concerns, I feel that he is going to win over a large majority of the conservative vote with this focus. Personally, I lean towards moderate conservatism."
Pinellas residents will have an opportunity to let their voices be heard by casting their votes early at locations across the county. January 14-19 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and January 21-26 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the: Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Rd, Largo; County Courthouse, 315 Court St, Clearwater; County Building 501 First Avenue North, St. Petersburg.
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