Giuliani among notable Republicans campaigning for R.I. candidates

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

With national attention focused on a handful of contentious U.S. Senate races in the upcoming November election, celebrity politicians are coming out in full force to support Rhode Island Democratic Senate candidate Sheldon Whitehouse. But Republicans have also been making noise with star-studded fundraising events for incumbents Gov. Donald Carcieri ’65 and Sen. Lincoln Chafee ’75 as Rhode Island’s Senate and gubernatorial races run down to the wire.

At a $500-per-ticket luncheon on Oct 4., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spoke in support of Chafee at the Hotel Providence, extolling his strengths as an independent-minded senator capable of splitting with his party on pivotal issues.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani drew a crowd of hundreds to the Providence Marriott Downtown hotel Friday afternoon for a $250-per-person luncheon and town hall forum on homeland security in Carcieri’s honor.

As Giuliani joked that every Republican in the state must have been present in the hotel’s conference room, attendees enjoyed an open bar and hors d’oeuvres as they socialized, and some signed up for $1,000 photo opportunities with the former mayor.

Rhode Island Republican Party Chair Patricia Morgan emphasized state Republicans’ dedication to Rhode Island-specific issues, because “it’s not always the federal government that makes a difference.”

“The Democrats stand for (nothing) except that they’re against President (George W.) Bush. Well, he’s not on the ballot here,” Morgan said. “(Republican candidates) are running on platforms of things they can do to make Rhode Island a better place to live. That’s what actually affects us in our daily lives, much more than any ballot issues.”

She said Democratic candidates often take advantage of students who vote in Rhode Island but were not previously residents of the state. Consequently, they are more tuned in to national rather than state issues, she said.

Morgan commended Chafee for bringing millions of dollars in special projects to the state over the course of his time in the Senate.

“Call it pork, call it whatever you want to call it,” Morgan said. “(Chafee) has done so much to help the state of Rhode Island.”

The senator echoed Morgan’s sentiments in his brief remarks delivered in support of Carcieri.

“When you see those cranes, it’s the most visible sign of a state on the move,” Chafee said, referring to the numerous construction projects underway in Providence. “This state is just on the move,” he emphasized, pumping a fist in the air.

Carcieri also joked, “We have a new state bird – the crane,” in his introduction of Giuliani.

Giuliani, who is most recognizable for his role as mayor in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is also credited with reducing crime rates in New York during his tenure.

“Beyond anything else, I’m a Republican,” Giuliani said to open his remarks. “(But) there is no Democratic or Republican way to pick up the garbage.”

Giuliani praised Carcieri for balancing Rhode Island’s budget, bringing new businesses to the state and controlling the growth of government. He emphasized that a state must be approached “not like an old political machine, but … like a business – it needs to be run with accountability.”

“(Carcieri) needs four more years to fix (Rhode Island),” Giuliani said. “From the outside it looks like you’ve got something really good going here, and I think you’re going to want to continue it.”

Giuliani also put in a word of praise for Chafee, commending the senator’s support for homeland security, his votes in favor of federal defense spending and his dedication to “get ready for emergencies in the new, modern way that (the country has to).”

At the town hall forum following the luncheon, Giuliani spoke on the lessons he learned from Hurricane Katrina about emergency response. First, he said, “If there’s ever a big, beyond-our-capacity” emergency, there must be a unified command so the government can be run as one entity and resources can be pooled. Second, he said, it is imperative to have joint training between local and national response teams for every conceivable emergency situation.

“Terrorism is unpredictable by design,” Giuliani said. “We prepare, we constantly try to figure out what they’re going to do next – and they’re constantly trying to figure out, ‘What can we do to surprise them?’ No one agency can handle this and we need a lot of help,” he said, singling out the importance of states like Rhode Island in contributing to the nation’s overall preparedness.

An outspoken supporter of the Iraq war, Giuliani staunchly defended the Patriot Act – calling criticism of it “unwarranted” – and dismissed one forum attendee’s concerns about racial profiling.

“Profiling is all how you define it,” Giuliani said. “(There is nothing wrong in) collecting characteristics objectively for the purpose of accurately figuring out who the murderer was, or who a likely terrorist is. … If you’re really doing it because you want to discriminate against someone, then it’s illegal.”

Zach Drew ’07, president of the College Republicans, attended the town forum, which was free of charge.

“Having all these big-name (politicians) shows how important both parties think this state is for the election, (in terms of) keeping the majority for the Republicans, but also the fight the Democrats are putting up to take the majority from us,” Drew said of Giuliani and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who raised over $50,000 last week at fundraisers for Whitehouse.

“I don’t think (Giuliani) sounded as presidential as he could have, but I guess homeland security is what people know him for,” Drew said, referring to speculation of a 2008 presidential candidacy for Giuliani.

“(Giuliani) did an awful lot to clean up (New York), but it depends on what your definition of clean up is,” said Josh Rosenthal ‘07.5, Drew’s roommate.

“(It’s safer now) than 15 years ago – his profile in New York was good, he’s one of the only mayors where you’ll see a lot of things with his name on it, unlike (current mayor) Bloomberg, who vacations in the Bahamas on the weekends,” Rosenthal said.

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