Promising victory in the war in Iraq and a fence between the U.S. and Mexico, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani was greeted by over 60 patrons yesterday when he made a surprise visit to Joe’s Cafe in downtown Santa Barbara.
Giuliani arrived at the State Street eatery after his campaign fundraiser stop in Montecito and circled the interior of the eatery, taking pictures, shaking hands and smiling at his supporters. Though his stay was brief, Giuliani did take the time to respond to a few interviewers during a limited question and answer session outside Joe’s Cafe.
Audience members asked about hot political topics such as illegal immigration, rival candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and the war in Iraq. During the interview session, Giuliani said he was committed to creating a stable Iraq.
“I have the same position as I always have,” Giuliani said. “We have to win. If I was president, I’d be in favor of victory and stability in Iraq. … When we withdraw, Iraq will be an ally.”
Giuliani also said he was a stronger candidate and more consistent in his views than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
“On the war, Hillary Clinton has six different positions,” Giuliani said. “I don’t know if Democrats realize that. … In a debate last night, she said she didn’t know if we’d be out by 2013.”
David Lack, a Santa Barbara resident and volunteer co-finance chairman for Giuliani, said he believes Clinton will become the Democratic forerunner, but that the former New York mayor will make for a better leader.
“Republicans know he is the best candidate and can beat Hillary Clinton,” Lack said.
Lack said Giuliani is also concerned about illegal immigration into America and that the Republican candidate wishes to complete a fence between America and Mexico.
“He wants the fence finished,” lack said. “If it stops 70 or 80 [illegal immigrants] only, it will help.”
Leslie Esposito, founder of the Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center, said he admired Giuliani’s speaking ability and his record as New York’s mayor.
“He was in New York after 9/11 when the towers went down,” Esposito said. “He is an icon in the U.S. and if it wasn’t for the presidential politics now, we would look at him as a hero. … He has good qualities to be president.”
Santa Barbara resident Genevieve Kohn said she was impressed with Giuliani’s genuine nature and his comfort with the crowd.
“He stood here and talked to 50 people, taking pictures and answering questions like he was standing in his own living room,” Kohn said.
She also said she told Giuliani that her son, a UCSB graduate, was a major in the army and that Giuliani kissed her on the cheek, telling her, “Thank him for doing such a nice job.”
Afterward, Giuliani departed from Joe’s Cafe to continue on his campaign trail. The former New York mayor’s visit marks the third presidential candidate appearance in Santa Barbara this month, following those made earlier by Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich.