Just returned from the historic Miami Beach deli where Rudy Giuliani made a stop to greet supporters this morning.
At about 8:15, Rudy showed up, talked with patrons, went into the kitchen to greet the cooks and other staff, signed baseballs and menus, and ate some Raisin Bran (not sure why he didn’t try the Rascal’s famous soft-in-the-middle French toast, but unfortunately I didn’t get to ask him that.)
A dark-haired, tanned lady with rhinestone sunglasses expressed a point of view that reflected the consensus among those who had turned out: “Rudy, what you did for New York City, no one else could have done. The country needs you.” Meanwhile, Rudy-supporter Jon Voight hopped off the van to speak with passers-by outside the restaurant.
The media were there in full force—everyone from CNN to Japanese Nippon TV, bearing microphones and cameras—all on one side of the counter, and Rudy answered questions. Having sauntered in as a patron, I sat a few seats away from him at the counter.
Most of the questions were typical ones, like “What do you want to tell Florida voters today?”
“The main thing is to get out the vote … that’s our one message today,” he said.
One reporter asked something about a statement Rudy supposedly made regarding the other candidates gaining momentum.
With the clanking of dishes and buzz of conversation I found it a little hard to hear his response. What I did hear was, “Other candidates have gotten momentum as they won … different primaries … but I think we’re gonna win today.”
At that point, I started shouting out my question, “Rudy, do you think the media…”
Rudy smiled politely in my direction and then turned away, and I was drowned out. No doubt he figured I was an insane stalker. Oh, well.
What I wanted to ask was, “Do you think the media have tried to anoint McCain or Romney the Republican nominee because they know you’re the one with the best chance of beating whoever the Democrat is? And is that part of the reason for the shift in momentum?”
In many ways, it does seem as if the media has done its best to influence the process, and whether intentional or not, the round-the-clock coverage of the early primaries has skewed reality to a degree that seems undemocratic. Why, after all, should voters in New Hampshire or Iowa enjoy a hugely disproportionate influence in determining the nominee? Some differences in influence from state to state are built into our system, of course, but the ubiquitous nature of mass media has exacerbated this inequity.
I discussed this dynamic with a former high school teacher who had come out to meet Rudy, and who was sitting beside me at the counter. “That’s just the way people are, though,” she commented. “They’re like ants—you put out a block of sugar and they’ll flock to it.”
Often true, but people also have the capacity to surprise you. Wouldn’t it be something if the voters of Florida surprised us today?
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