Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is in Indianapolis today to raise money from deep-pocketed donors to his presidential campaign -- and to meet some average Hoosiers as well.
Giuliani is holding a $2,300 per person fundraiser this evening, hosted in part by Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who is the candidate's finance director for Indiana.
Giuliani also is getting help from former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith, who is advising him on policy issues. Brizzi said he expects to raise about $250,000 for Giuliani at this evening's fundraising event at Obsidian Enterprises, owned by Tim Durham, another host of the event.
Brizzi said he expects to eventually raise "millions" for Giuliani in Indiana.
But today was also a chance for the candidate to meet people who potentially have something as important to give as money -- their vote.
He went to Shapiro's Deli on the Southside of Indianapolis to sample the corned beef and greet prospective voters. Many of those at the deli knew Giuliani was coming, including Susan Musleh, 47, of Indianapolis, who wore the T-shirt she purchased in New York City about a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The shirt has the signatures of New York firefighters, and today Musleh got Giuliani's signature on the back."I love him! I love him!" Musleh enthused.
The former mayor sat at a table with four Indiana National Guard members, who said they had not known he was coming when they decided to go to Shapiro's for lunch.
Sgt. First Class Walter Butt said the former mayor had his support even before they said hello."Absolutely," Butt sid.
"He's got the battle scars. He's battle-proven."Giuliani told reporters there are no front-runners in the field, which also includes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is being backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others.
But, he said, people should choose him because of his experience. And not, he said, just the 9/11 experience of leading New York City in the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks, but also his experience in reducing crime and welfare.
Many, however, have questioned whether his left-leaning views on some social issues will hurt him in the Republican primaries.
Giuliani's appearance in Indiana is somewhat unusual. In a state that holds its primaries long after Democratic and Republican nominations are settled, visits from presidential candidates are few and far between.
I know more than a few Republicans in this state who will not be pleased to hear former Mayor Goldsmith is advising Guiliani. Hopefully, Guiliani's folks (hint, hint, Carl) will provide a little more advance notice of any future visits to Indiana than was provided this time.