A WCBSTV / CBS 2 HD report: Just six days before Rudy Giuliani has his moment of truth. He’s banked just about his entire run for president on the Florida primary next Tuesday.
CBS 2 HD has been the only local news station on the campaign trail with Giuliani. The former New York City mayor told us Wednesday he is hoping that Jewish voters – many of them former New Yorkers – can help save his campaign.
To listen to the people on 41st Street in Miami Beach, you’d think there was only one man running for president.
“Rudy Giuliani!” one Hasidic man yelled to CBS 2 HD cameras.
Said another voter: “I would love to have Giuliani.”
He is down in the polls, running out of cash and losing momentum to his challengers. A just releaed St. Petersburg Times poll has Giuliani in third place in Florida, 10 points behind leader John McCain. But in this largely Jewish neighborhood, where former New Yorkers abound, the former mayor is still the main man.
“I think Florida might be the turning point for Giuliani and I’m hoping it will be,” Republican voter Tammy Friedman said.
Stumping in Estero Wednesday, Giuliani made a pitch to all recent transplants to what’s often called New York’s sixth borough.
“We need your help whether you’re from New York or Florida or California or New Jersey, or where, Connecticut or New Hampshire? Wow this is a multi-American group from Florida,” Giuliani said.
Professor Ira Sheskin is an expert on the Jewish vote here.
“We have about 600,000 Jews, 250,000 of whom were born in the state of New York, most of whom were there when Giuliani was mayor,” Sheskin said.
A poll last year showed that Giuliani was more popular among Jewish voters than any Republican in the race. However, times have changed, and he can’t take things for granted any more.
You could tell from a walk on the beach that McCain may be Giuliani’s biggest threat to his Jewish support.
When asked whom she is voting for, Republican voter Stacy Lovett said, “McCain, because he’s honest and he’s truthful.”
McCain has Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman stumping for him, and he’s enormously popular here. But Giuliani is working hard to keep his fan base here. And he clearly has fans.
“He’s very pro-Israel,” voter Moshe Bagley said. “I’d certainly vote for him.”
Giuliani has had a hard time getting attention this week, something that used to be easy for him back at CIty Hall.
His last, best chance will likely come Thursday at the final Republican debate.
We’ll see if he finally turns on his rivals to help save his campaign.
(Source: CBS 2 HD / WCBSTV)