Rudy In Dixie — I Love This Story

South Carolina loves Rudy:

If Rudy Giuliani does run for president in 2008, the Palmetto State is everything that’s supposedly going to trip him up in the primaries: It’s Southern (Mr. Giuliani’s a Yankee), it’s religious (61% evangelical, the sixth highest concentration in the nation), and it’s predisposed to go with the guy whose “turn” it is (think Bob Dole in 1996).

But none of those hurdles seemed terribly high as Mr. Giuliani sprinted from event to event yesterday, starting with a fund-raiser for a local GOP congressional candidate in Greenville, moving on to a motivational speech around the corner, and finishing up with another fundraiser at night for the state GOP, on the other side of the state in Charleston.

The 2000 election, Mr. Giuliani said, had taught him just how important politics really is. While the election had seemed a relatively frivolous one at the time, suddenly — on September 11, 2001 — it mattered a great deal who was in the White House. “Sometimes, elections are more important than we realize when we’re in them,” he said.

While he tied that argument to the 2006 midterm elections, the real message was clear: The coming presidential election isn’t about the Confederate flag, it’s not about Roe v. Wade, it’s not about whether New York’s former mayor has had some marital troubles — it’s about who will lead America in the War on Terror. Some conservatives might not see eye-to-eye with this Blue-stater on social issues, but this is a new world we live in.

The crowd responded warmly. As Mr. Giuliani finished taking questions from the audience, Fred Butler, 87 years old, of Greenville, piped up and said he hoped greatly that the former mayor would get into the 2008 GOP contest. “How much do I owe you?” Mr. Giuliani cracked as he wrapped things up.

Mr. Butler, speaking to me after the fundraiser, said that Mr. Giuliani is currently his top choice for the 2008 primary. “I know he did a good job in New York City, and I think he’s just a good man,” Mr. Butler said. He added, “I think he would garner a lot more votes than anyone I could think of right now.”This is what I have been saying all along. Laura Lee Donoho has the same opinion of Rudy’s chances down south, too. I really don’t think Rudy is going to have much trouble in the South. It obviously depends on who is running against him, but “God, guns and gays” are not the only issues that determine our votes down here in Dixie.

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