While Romney’s speech offered more nuts and bolts, Giuliani’s speech was thematic. At CPAC, Rudy Giuliani was facing a conservative audience that should be the most hostile toward the possibility of his winning the Republican nomination, given his oft-discussed positions on social issues, and yet he was generally well received, entering and exiting the stage to a standing ovation as “New York, New York” blasted. He got a great boost with an introduction by George Will, who spoke highly of his record as mayor of New York City. He described how Giuliani reduced crime, cut taxes, restrained spending, and slashed welfare rolls in a city that had suffered through decades of liberalism that had taken the city from the elegance of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to the decay of the “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Will went as far as to call Giuliani’s reign as mayor the most successful example of conservative governance in the 20th Century.
Giuliani spent much of his speech discussing fiscal issues and made a powerful case for school choice. As he has done recently, he redefined the War on Terror. Americans, he said, are not warlike people, but desire peace. “This is not our war on terror, this the war of terrorists against us.”
Also, there was a dose of trademark Giuliani self-deprecation about some of the issues he faces in a Republican primary. In his introduction, Will described Maragret Thatcher as someone who would swat government agencies away with a handbag. In his opening, Giuliani joked that if he swatted government agencies with a handbag, he would have another problem. “I have enough issues with already, I don’t need more.” Perhaps it was a subtle reference to this video. Later in the speech, he cited Reagan’s 80-20 theory, that if you agree on 80 percent of the issues, you’re allies.