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Rudy Giuliani visited Santa Margarita on the presidential campaign trail in 2007

Rudy Giuliani speaks during a campaign stop in Santa Margarita on Sunday, June 11, 2007. At left, is Sam Blakeslee, and at right is Kevin McCarthy.
Rudy Giuliani speaks during a campaign stop in Santa Margarita on Sunday, June 11, 2007. At left, is Sam Blakeslee, and at right is Kevin McCarthy. The Tribune

As of this writing, Rudy Giuliani is the spokes-lawyer for President Donald Trump.

A little over 10 years ago, the former New York mayor was a leading presidential candidate.

In summer 2007, several polls showed Giuliani at the front of the Republican field.

He touted his campaign as best qualified to defeat Hillary Clinton, but as it turned out Giuliani was defeated by Senator John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination.

Giuliani visited Santa Margarita when he was near the peak of his popularity.

Tribune reporter Sona Patel wrote about the presidential hopeful on June 11, 2007:

Giuliani takes leg of out here: Republican candidate in Santa Margarita

When Rudy Giuliani pins an American flag on his lapel, he can't help but think of Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's one of the things that got me through," the front-running Republican presidential candidate said to hundreds of San Luis Obispo County residents Sunday afternoon in Santa Margarita.

And for those who watched his beaming smile greet crowds, the former mayor of New York was the person who helped them deal with the worst attack on American soil.

Giuliani spent about half an hour in Santa Margarita Park listing successes he believed improved the quality of life for many New Yorkers over the past decade.

That leadership style, he said, will be what America needs in its next president.

Having been named Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2001 for the way he handled the attacks on the World Trade Center and gaining insurmountable praise for calming a chaotic New York, Giuliani's heroic image undoubtedly resonated with a few hundred locals who paid $25 apiece to attend the event.

"We need a strong leader and someone who's tough on terrorism," said Paso Robles resident Susan Brigham.

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Rudy Giuliani kisses the leg of 7-month-old Dana Petker as her mother Kathy Petker, of Arroyo Grande, looks on during the candidate's visit to Santa Margarita on June 11, 2007. Petker said she read Giuliani's book out loud to the baby. Jayson Mellom The Tribune

Aside from Giuliani's image as a leader who kept New York united after Sept. 11, many at the event said his successful efforts as mayor to reduce crime, cut taxes and revamp dangerous areas of the nation's largest city made him their top pick for president in the 2008 elections.

"If he can clean up New York, he can clean up the rest of the country," Mary Jane Rooney of Atascadero said.

To Giuliani, however, his political image after the attacks won't be the driving force that he thinks would push him to victory, especially for voters in California.

Lowering taxes and crime, he said, is what voters should look at more than how he handled the Sept. 11 aftermath.

According to Giuliani, voters in California — including those on the Central Coast — will heavily affect his campaign for presidency.

"It's a country," he said. "California is a place to campaign."

Giuliani visited Santa Margarita en route to Modesto and Orange County during his visit to California for Flag Day celebrations.

The county's Republican Central Committee invited Giuliani to visit the Central Coast when they found out he was coming to California, according to event coordinator Mike Whiteford.

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Rudy Giuliani stirs a pot of beans as Dennis Cassidy (in cowboy hat) looks on during a campaign stop in Santa Margarita in June 2007. Jayson Mellom The Tribune

Besides an afternoon picnic sponsored by the committee, the former mayor met with local politicians including San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero and Councilman Paul Brown, and Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, in an informal question-and-answer session on the Santa Margarita Ranch on Sunday morning.

Sunday's visit also attracted some vocal critics, including members from the San Luis Obispo chapter of Code Pink — an anti-war women's group — who said they plan to attend any campaigning politician's appearance in this area to champion an end to war in Iraq and to work with citizen groups to shape public policy.

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After the story was published, an Ask the Editor column fielded a couple of interesting questions, one election-based and another that shows how much technology has changed in 11 years.

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Rudy Giuliani speaks to the crowd during a campaign stop at Santa Margarita Park in June 2007. At right is Sam Blakeslee. Jayson Mellom The Tribune


June 13, 2007

Q. How did The Tribune miss an opportunity to have a short exclusive interview with a major internationally known public figure, and a likely future president of the United States? ... It would have been interesting to know the former New York mayor's opinion, for instance, on migrant labor, urban sprawl, nuclear power and waste treatment. Come on Trib, less wire copy, more real journalism please. – Zach Frederick, San Luis Obispo

A. Philosophically, we completely agree with you. But in reality, events like this rarely — if ever — work as easily as you suggest.

In this instance, after we learned that Rudy Giuliani would visit Santa Margarita, we wrote a short story on the upcoming visit and sought a private interview with him. We were told that after Giuliani spoke to the crowd, he'd spend a little time with all local media, collectively.

What occurred, however, was not as promised, according to Assistant City Editor Tony Prado, who was in charge of the local coverage on that Sunday, June 10. "Giuliani's visit totaled barely 25 minutes at the park — like the old-fashioned whistle-stop tour," Prado said. "Questions were allowed the moment Giuliani walked off the stage, but he was surrounded by his handlers and a crowd of onlookers taking pictures, listening in and trying to talk to him. He took only four questions, and that was it, then he was off."

As Managing Editor Tad Weber put it, "Political campaigns blow off all media at staged events when they want to, from The New York Times to The Tribune." The best way around that is to research an issue in depth, then snare a 20-minute interview with the candidate on the campaign plane or vehicle, Weber said.

While that wasn't an option in this case, we have gone that route successfully in the past. In August 2000, when George W. Bush was on the campaign trail along the Central Coast, Tribune reporter Jeff Ballinger managed to board the then-Texas governor's train in Oxnard early in the morning. As the day progressed, he repeatedly asked Bush's press aide for five minutes with the candidate. Late that afternoon, his persistence paid off with a 10-minute private interview during which Bush vowed to support a proposed offshore oil drilling moratorium.

Q. In some areas you can receive newspaper headlines through your cell phone. Can I do that with The Tribune?

A. The Tribune's headlines are now prominently featured on the cell phones of all local Verizon customers, who can also read the top three paragraphs of those stories, according to Tribune Online Editor Sally Buffalo. "When users launch the Web browser on their cell phone, one of the options on the first screen will be Local, which will then give the following options: breaking news, local, business, sports, weather and movie show times. McClatchy, which owns The Tribune, is trying to line up similar arrangements with other major cell phone providers, though all phones can access the information at http://slotrib.vrvm.com."

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