By Brian C. Mooney
ST. PAUL -- Assuming the role of Republican rottweiler, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, in his keynote address to the Republican National Convention, last night dismissed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama as a "celebrity senator" without leadership experience or significant accomplishment, ridiculing his years as a community organizer in Chicago.
"He's never had to lead people in crisis," Giuliani said to a roaring crowd at the Xcel Energy Center. "This is not a personal attack; it's a statement of fact. Barack Obama has never led anything .. Nothing ... Nada."
Giuliani, among the GOP presidential candidates who lost to John McCain in the Republican primaries, cast national security and the threat of terrorism -- not the faltering economy -- as the top issues in the presidential election. The Democrats' theme of change versus more of the same, he said, "is really a false choice because there's good change and bad change. Change is not a destination and hope is not a strategy."
By contrast, Giuliani said, "No one can look at John McCain and say that he is not ready to be commander in chief." With McCain in the White House, he said, "we will be safe in his hands, our children will be safe in his hands, and the country will be safe in his hands.
Giuliani stressed a bedrock theme of McCain's candidacy -- his experience, including his military service and years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam -- and contrasted it with a dismissive account of Obama's career.
"On the other hand, you have a resume from a gifted man with an Ivy League education," Giuliani said. "He worked as a community organizer ... What?"
Giuliani also lampooned Obama's Illinois state senate record and the nearly 130 times he voted "present" on legislation. Reprising an attack Hillary Clinton used against Obama during the Democratic primaries, Giuliani said, "He couldn't figure out whether to vote yes or no. It was too tough."
"It doesn't work in an executive job," he said, drawing laughs and cheers. "For the president of the United States, it's not good enough to be present; you have to make a decision."
Obama and others have said voting present was a common practice in the Illinois legislature, often as partisan strategy or to express objections to portions of bills he would otherwise support.
In the US Senate, Giuliani asserted, Obama "spent most of his time as a celebrity senator; no leadership, no legislation to really speak of."
Obama's ascension to the height of American politics, Giuliani said, is "remarkable in its own right -- It's the kind of thing that can only happen in America."
Giuliani defended McCain's running mate, first-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and said "she already has more executive experience that the entire Democratic ticket combined." Giuliani also swiped at critics who have raised questions about Palin's ambitions and her family of five children, including a newborn son.
"How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president," Giuliani said. "When do they ever ask a man that question?"
He did not say exactly who he meant by "they," but Giuliani made similar remarks hours earlier to the New York delegation in Minneapolis while criticizing media coverage of Palin.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.