It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to have breakfast with the man who might be the next leader of the free world, but that was exactly the position I was in last week when I was invited, along with about twenty other people, to have breakfast with Rudy Giuliani in Newport Beach, California. Rudy—like a certain woman on the other side of the aisle, the first name is enough—is holding breakfasts like the one I attended all over the country to gauge support for a possible presidential bid in 2008. What follows are my impressions, reflections and questions about the man who shepherded New York through 9/11 with fearless leadership and who, if the chips fall his way, might be working in the Oval Office come late January 2009.
PRESIDENT IN WAR TIME: NO FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE NECESSARY?
Rudy is working hard to shore up what he sees as a potential problem for his campaign: a lack of foreign policy experience. Since his tenure as mayor of New York City ended, he has made some 50 trips abroad to 31 different countries. But does racking up frequent flier miles really prepare you for the White House? Not exactly, but Rudy says he gained a great deal of international experience managing the multi-ethic brewing pot that is New York City. That comment reminded me a bit of something Pat Buchanan said about Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign. Buchanan said something along the lines of, “Bill thinks he has an understanding of multiple cultures because he often has breakfast at the International House of Pancakes.” Well, Clinton must have had a lot of IHOP breakfasts that year, because he found a way to win in 1992. Will Rudy experience similar success? Don’t bet on it. New York City might be a broadly diverse place, and running that city is certainly an enormous task, but it’s a far cry from occupying the White House in a time of war against Islamic radicalism, not to mention at a time when China is emerging as a superpower. Unlike the 1992 and 2000 elections, the 2008 election will be about electing a war-time president. Burnishing your credentials in foreign policy experience will most likely make all the difference.
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Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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