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The Education of Rudy - Iowa Style

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Clear Lake, Iowa -- Sweat spots oozing from his pristine starched blue shirt, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani admitted to OffTheBus, "Maybe it was a mistake not to participate in the Iowa Straw Poll."

At just 15%, Giuliani's poll numbers in Iowa continue lagging behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's 26% just before the Iowa Straw Poll non-binding vote on August 11.

"America's Mayor" is learning that you can't ignore Iowa, if your final destination is the White House.

Prior to his 3-day swing in Iowa this week, Giuliani hasn't spent much time or money in the first caucus state in the nation.

Surrounded by his pin-stripped suited security team and top staffers (even a female staffer wore a suit!), Giuliani's jacket is finally off, but his sleeves aren't rolled up just yet.

"We've been in Iowa for the last two days and we'll be here for another day," said Giuliani as he wiped the sweat from his brow on the second day of stumping in the heartland.

"Campaigning here is a lot like campaigning in New York City," said Giuliani.

Well, not quite. And, the locals were more than happy to teach him a few basics of campaigning Iowa style.

"The corn is all the way up to the tarmac!" said Giuliani, as he stepped out of a small plane at the Mason City Municipal Airport and slipped into his van.

Giuliani's driver for the day, Peggy Bang, said the big city mayor had a few misconceptions that she helped clarify.

According to Bang, Giuliani remarked, "That corn sure is tall! It's about ready to be harvested, isn't it?"

Bang, (whose husband, Roger Bang is a Giuliani supporter and also, Mayor of Mason City), answered:

"Only sweet corn is harvested right now. It'll be another month or two before the field corn stalks dry down enough to be harvested."

Learning the differences between harvesting sweet corn and field corn is just the beginning of Rudy Giuliani's education as a presidential candidate in this state with a rural, more conservative, sophisticated, and somewhat spoiled electorate here.

"I don't listen to any candidate unless they're giving me a Bratwurst," said one Clear Lake resident who wanted to remain anonymous.

However, about one hundred people did pop by to hear Giuliani's campaign message.

Holding up a small card with his 12 Commitments, Giuliani didn't quite light up the crowd with his campaign's main theme - keeping America on the offensive in the War on Terrorists - and his message of the day - access to a quality education, including restoring the arts programs.

The Iraq War is just as unpopular in Iowa as it is in the rest of the country and Giuliani's compliments to GW Bush at nearly every campaign stop here - " He [the president] doesn't get the credit he deserves for going on the offensive against the war on terrorism," doesn't score any points - or applause - for Giuliani from these savvy voters.

Giuliani does have his supporters - and there will be more after this week's campaign swing in the heartland.

Ge Jo's owners, Pat and Gene Galasso, and their daughter, Jessica are Giuliani fans.

Jessica said, "He [Giuliani] was the man of the hour on 9/11. I thought we were going to have World War III. To me, he's a real hero."

Many in the crowd at Clear Lake, a town of about 8,000, wanted to see a national celebrity and continue to wait for the next Celeb to pass through town before committing to any presidential campaign so early in the process.

"I was invited to meet Fred Thompson on July 27. About fifty of us waited and waited, but he never showed. Can you believe that? It left me with a bad feeling. That's not the way to start a presidential campaign in Iowa," said Lu Schell, a Clear Lake resident.

Although Schell was impressed by Giuliani, she wasn't swept off her feet like she was in 1999, when GW Bush beguiled a huge crowd of fifteen-hundred. Schell caucused for Bush in 2000.

Republican activists attending other GOP candidate events say they're put-off by Giuliani's pro-choice and pro-gay-partnership views, even as they remain impressed with his 9/11 leadership.

In an effort to overcome his liberal record on social issues, Giuliani referred back to his Twelve Commitments, including these promises:

"I'll appoint strict constructionist judges. I'm committed to decreasing abortions and increasing adoptions, just like I did in New York."

Giuliani's campaign has finally made a significant commitment to Iowa by getting their candidate out on the stump pressing the flesh in smaller Iowa towns and making a major media buy this week.
.
When Huffingtonpost asked Giuliani if he was going to eat a corndog at the upcoming Iowa State Fair, his answer was quick:

"Yes. I'll be at the Iowa State Fair and I'll be back. We're laying the groundwork for the Iowa caucuses."

With the caucuses still six months away, Giuliani has time enough to learn the ropes of grassroots politicking Iowa style.

Eating corndogs and knowing when to harvest field corn is just the beginning of the educating of Rudy in this grueling presidential campaign, where Iowans will cast the first votes in the nation - and they will not soon forget who cared enough to court them in their hometowns and who
didn't.

Photo description: Hoping to bump up his support in Iowa, Rudy Giuliani campaigns at Ge Jo's Italian restaurant in Clear Lake, Iowa.